If there was ever something consistent about a Dixon Christmas, it was shortbread and “stale cookies.” They were not actually stale, for with me around there was never opportunity for them to get stale. They were custard creme cookies, which a cousin of mine did not realize were supposed to be soft and crumbly, hence the new name based on his opinion of them! Whatever name they went by, they were consistently at happy Christmas festivities. Until recently.
My Mum presided over a shortbread and stale cookie factory every year until her memory started to fade. Stale cookies, being more involved to make, stopped making their appearance first. But then shortbread, which didn’t normally wait for Christmas, also stopped. I can’t remember the last time I had my Mum’s shortbread. Sometimes you don’t know when you are experiencing something for the last time.
All that being said, I just had a piece of shortbread with my morning coffee. It was the same melt-in-your-mouth kind of shortbread my Mum always made. This time we made it. We used the same recipe, read from the same book, using the same weigh scales, which have been in the family longer than I have, and used the same pan, which in typical Mum fashion, is an odd size. It worked out okay. My Dad’s allotment did not see the next sunrise. Even Mum said it was good! We will have Mum’s shortbread this Christmas. It will not be the same. But it will be good. This is how journeys of grief go. When we lose, or are losing, a loved one, whether suddenly or slowly, we must realize that things will never be same. But they can be good.
For all the talk of Christmas traditions, Christmas has actually seen a lot of change over the years. The Magi did not come bearing gifts of shortbread and stale cookies. Although with the journey involved, any cookies they did bring would have been truly stale. Many Christmas traditions are quite recent and have very little to do with that very first Christmas. What has been consistent, is the recognition that God did an amazing thing when he stepped into our world as a baby. As much as we might like to keep things from changing, this baby changes everything, for the better!
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. Galatians 4:4-5 (NRSV)
Whether celebrated when life seems stable or in upheaval, the birth of this baby is worth celebrating. The pace of change in our lives and in society may be dizzying. The kinds of change that come may be worrying. Change will come. Grief will be part of life, even during Christmas. Because of Jesus, we can know it will all be good again.
My Family and I wish you every Christmas Blessing.