This past Sunday, Evelyn was dedicated to the Lord during the service at Rainier Avenue Church. It is a bit embarrassing to me that she wasn’t dedicated until the age of seven (as you can see from the picture, everyone else being dedicated with her was under the age of two) since our entire lives are centered around our Christian faith but as I’ve reflected on it, I think a couple of factors have played a part. 1) Tim and I disagree about infant vs. believer’s baptism – our only major theological difference, I think – so we ended up just completely putting off the decision about whether to have her baptized or dedicated and 2) We moved when she was a baby and weren’t sure whether to have her dedicated in the church we had been going to for several years or in the church we knew we would become a part of.
In any case, it is an important occasion and good to publicly declare that Evelyn is the Lord’s and that we intend to raise her to know and love Him. We are also thankful for the family of believers around us who will influence and guide her as she grows.
I really feel that that holiday season, when you have kids in ours’ age range, begins around Halloween. You can just feel the energy being the same, and the excitement of decorations, lights, and the shortening day giving a similar feel to the season. Plus, who doesn’t like having a longer Holiday Season? 🙂
But however you gauge it, it began in earnest this weekend, with two special Christmas events for the 3 Kniffin families. It was very special to spend quality time with the family.
For the kiddos, we went to a performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which was quite good. I wondered, going into it, how you make a 20 minute tv show into a 90 minute play. The answer: good dancing, and a sing along at the end. We followed the performance by going to a local video arcade, which the kids are really beginning to love.
For the adults (picture above), we went to a “Sacred Sounds of the Season,” performed by the Seattle Pacific University musical ensemble. 2500 attendees came to Seattle’s Benaroya Hall (for non-Seattle-ites, this is our main venue for operas & orchestras).
Ras & Maas came to visit this weekend, and we visited Uncle Dan & Aunt Vicki’s cabin on Orcas Island (thanks, as always, Dan & Vicki!!!) Friends are important; maybe one of the most important things. CS Lewis’ quote rings as true now as when I first read it in college:
“friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, ‘sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends.’ “
These two men beside me are my best friends since high school. Without going through the long list, it’s safe to say that we’ve been through a lot together. And, when Ras commented that at “25-year friendship feels different than a 10-year one”, it hit me in a whole new way. Sure, it’s obvious in one respect. But the real special thing it made me focus on is how we’ve been through many “cycles” of life (different schools, ‘just starting out’, first job, dating, just married, first kid, moving homes, tragedy, etc.). It’s the cycles that have this interesting mix of the old and the new, the familiar and the surprising. And that’s a real treasure.
As drove home from the airport, I thanked God for this great weekend. Here’s what I found myself thanking Him for:
Remembering me: they remind you of who you used to be: this could be good, bad, or neutral, but people who’ve known you a long time have the ability to take you back in time and remember the rhythms of your personality when you were much younger. You find yourself laughing about things you forgot about, or reacting to things in ways you no longer do.
‘Familiar Patterns‘: because good friends often share a lot with you (eg, personality, humor, outlook, convictions), they remind you that even though life changes a lot, there is also an underlying similarity that doesn’t change.
Convictions: I’m often thinking something like, ‘if _______ can do ________, then I should be able to do that too!’ It takes a friend who you started off with to convict you in this way.
Sharing pains: the struggles we have can take on a new light when shared amongst people who truly care.
Prayer: and, because of all of the above, their prayer means a lot more to you.
And so arrives Halloween. And, with it (and a few birthdays), I think it’s safe to say that the “Holiday Season” has begun.
To me, the biggest thing that occurs to me for this Holiday Season is the idea of ritual. Rituals, as this blog makes a point of emphasizing, are those things we do over and over again on purpose, until “they make us”. When we do things over and over again, they become so ingrained in us, that they form our character… they begin to become part of the way we do things, we expect things, and we see things. In a circular way, the decisions we make, end up coming around to make us right back.
As I think about Halloween, for example, many of the things we do to celebrate it are cyclical. We watch the same movies, carve the same pumpkins, drink the same drinks, use the same pumpkin-carving tools, listen to the same “scary music“, go to the same Lions’ Club event that Opa helped plan, and go to the same friends’ house (the one on the ‘good Halloween block’)… so much so that the kids can predict what’s going to happen next!
And yet, though you might expect that the same things = boring… it’s actually the opposite. The habitual nature of these rituals make them stronger in our mind, and give us a sense of who we are, and what we care about.
32 family members came to celebrate Evies 7th birthday this afternoon. We do our best to treasure these moments, and how many surround this girl with love.
Two days later (on her actual birth-day), we went to visit Oma, who has been in in hospital for the last few days. Oma treated us like only Oma does- prepared with balloons, decorations, cookies, and ice cream.
What we found was pretty spectacular. You know those places on the East Coast that are so into the Civil War that they dress up as a character/soldier, and re-create entire battles and days in character, and you can ask them anything you want and they’ll answer it authentically? Well, this is the same thing, except it’s in 14th-century small town of Somerset, England. And it’s a delight to visit, and for the kiddos to explore.