One Truth, Different Icons, One Family History

One Truth, Different Icons, One Family History December 18, 2020

An adult child that will remain nameless found our new creche arrangement highly inappropriate. *

As very good thinker, she accepted that the one Truth can be expressed in different icons. We see different aspects of one reality in different images. She is busy building a home of her own with different representations of Christmas than we have used. She has gained a new set of customs and new icons from her new family. She has a new patriarch and matriarch to go with her new name.

Change is afoot.

This is quite splendid. As a careful reasoner, this adult rejoices that things must change: the old order gives way to the new, lest by frequent use the good be corrupted. She is busy using the deep, ancient truths to create new expressions of Yuletide. This is a marvel.

Yet she has also seen that what is old has value. She has pointed out in her own way that her mom and I have a new role. Part of our job is to maintain the family history and traditions. 

We are not alone in this task. My dad and mom, patriarch and matriarch of the clan, maintain what they call the “oral tradition.” I can call Dad in particular to get the stories of our family right. They do not wish us to confuse our heritage or misunderstand our ancestors.

This is a living tradition. Dad and Mom embody what was and makes that “was” an “is” to this day. When we gather at my brother’s house where they live, I see old books, customs, and decorations in a new context. They push forward the best of the old into the new era. They do not defend nostalgia, but the goodness, truth, and beauty of the humans of those times that can no longer defend themselves.

That is their job and is now mine as well.

I find change easy. Walt Disney taught me that there was a “great big beautiful tomorrow” and the Book of Revelation confirmed this, if for better less scientistic reasons. Tomorrow Land is the City of God, not a Monsanto House of the Future. 

There is, however, an unchanging, eternal order in the center of reality. This can best be seen by comparing what “was” to what is “is” trendy. If the old is overwhelmed by the new, then this comparison is made harder.

Now for me, kids all raised, the time has come to recreate the old order, the jollification that we gave our children, and push some bits of that culture into the future. That is a good work, but harder to do. To embrace the future is merely to accept what others hand one and modify that new as one wishes. To defend the old, without becoming stodgy and reactionary, is very difficult, because this requires curating what was good, letting go what is no longer worthy, and moving forward accepting past decisions.

We display the creche we bought long ago and we can (and should!) buy new, yet the old must find the appropriate place. Our wise daughter did not object to the new creche, but to putting the new figures in the old structure: new creche conflicting with old.

May we bring forward what should be saved, toss what was good then, but not so much now. May we provide stability in the center of change.

*Of course some of this spleen is quite tongue in cheek!


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