Mennonite Heritage Village

The Precious Familiar

by Gary Dyck

This week my family and I pulled out the Christmas decorations, started listening to traditional carols remixed and thinking about how Christmas will be different this year. With so much change in 2020, I have never been so thankful for the familiar things that Christmas brings. We have dealt with a dizzying amount of change, and we need the peace and joy that the familiar can bring.

The songs and traditions that we repeat each year provide a context to build enjoyment of the season. Each year brings fresh memories to add to an existing framework. Our culture gives us a context that we can fill with memories and relationships.

Living overseas for 18 years, I listened to ‘I’ll be home for Christmas… if only in my dreams’ with tears of loneliness in my eyes. Back in Canada, I can recall the isolation I felt in Christmases past, but now relish being nearer to loved ones than before. For some the sentiment of that song will feel better next year when we can have family gatherings again, for myself, I’m still happy just to be in the same country as my parents!

How would it be to have none of the familiar things we take for granted? How would it be to have none of the usual Christmas food and only have new Christmas songs every year? We can handle one new Christmas song each year, but all of them?!? (I think churches need to consider that same question when they only have new worship songs and no ancient creeds or classic hymns in their services.) Familiar carols, foods, and simple traditions give us a way to connect with loved ones even when we can’t be together in one room.

At the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) multiple generations have established an entire village of how we used to live. The buildings, stories and artefacts can be a continuing context even for those who don’t know the story well. With our present so shaky, our future uncertain, it can be reassuring to maintain a context of culture.

In 2021, it is our desire at MHV to provide a place of grounding for our community. Look forward to some new initiatives at MHV in 2021! The more we know about our heritage, the more we can rely on it in times of distress. In the meantime, may you have a blessed Christmas season. May your faith and heritage keep you grounded. May the familiar be precious.

Thank you also for those who are still sending in their annual donations! MHV has seen a lot of revenue loss in our rentals (weddings and corporate), school programs and large events like Pioneer Days. Our Livery Barn Restaurant is another source of income that didn’t produce a profit this year because of the lack of international and domestic visitors. We will continue to adapt to the pandemic and hope for a better year in 2021. Support the Mennonite story by donating online, over the phone or by sending a cheque in the mail this month!

Calendar of Events

Our Village Books & Gifts shop is open online 24/7. We have a great selection of books and unique Christmas gifts for all. There are options for delivery or curbside pickup. Visit our webstore today.