When the timing is right, I love to try new things.

I like new foods and new music. I like to travel to new places. I decided to move to New Hampshire before I’d ever even been there. I frequently adopt new technologies to use in my English classroom at Anderson University. I like being in the know about movies and TV shows that no one else is watching yet.

Despite my craving for newness, there are also times that I really, really like the traditional. The old-fashioned. The ordinary.

I enjoy returning to places I’ve traveled before. I’ll read the same book or watch the same movie repeatedly. I’m content with just a handful of CDs in my car, listening to the same ones over and over. My husband and I bought the last house my grandparents lived in, right next door to the house where I grew up, and where my mom still lives.

533134-candlesDespite liking new things, I clearly take great comfort in the familiar.

“Silent Night” is the perfect Christmas carol, full of familiarity and comfort. It doesn’t matter that it’s overplayed or almost cliche, or that it is placed in so many movies and Christmas specials. The fact that it is sung as part of almost every single Christmas Eve service doesn’t faze me a bit. I love this song.

Silent night, Holy night,

All is calm, All is bright.

This is the first Christmas hymn I can remember memorizing as a little girl. I loved the way it made me want to lie down and take a nap in the stable. Does it even matter that now, as an adult, I know better about the probable conditions of Jesu
s’s birth? Now that I know that having a newborn baby is rarely a peaceful experience? Not at all.

Round yon virgin, Mother and Child,

Holy infant, so tender and mild.

The peacefulness I associated with that song is like the peacefulness that come only when it’s late at night, and the newborn baby is finally sleeping, and you hold him and touch his soft hair and cheeks.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

I think of Christmas chapel sessions where I went to college, when we stood in darkness and silence, and lit candles as we sang, a capella, these words of Christmas peace. I think of light slowly filling the room. I think of the wax bubbling at the top of the candle, watching it grow and swell and barely hold on, and then slip down the candlestick, leaving a trail of already-cooling wax in its path.

Silent night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight,

Glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing, “Hallelujah.”

I think of my own baby asleep in my arms during a Christmas service, her smooshy little face against my shoulder.

Christ the Savior is born.

Our nativity story is that of peace and calm in a time of great chaos. Is there anything more I need at Christmastime than peace and calm?

Christ the Savior is born.

Liz Boltz Ranfeld teaches English composition and creative writing at Anderson University. Liz and her husband, Ben, have been a part of Commonway for over 7 years. You can find her online at https://lizboltzranfeld.wordpress.com


Header photo credit: System58.photos by David Alan Kidd / VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

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