Westside Holiday Traditions



Wendy Weiss Southern,

Director of Religious Education dre@westsideuuc.org

Having arrived at the eve of the holiday season, we find ourselves taking a collective breath before our holiday traditions, new or old, begin to dictate our schedules through the New Year. Today we may be busy with preparations, but we still have this last moment to savor in relative quiet, not yet having crossed the threshold. It’s a really wonderful time of being at the beginning of something without having actually begun it.

These are my first holidays at Westside, and while I am fully a part of it, I am noticing the activities from a bit of an observer’s perspective. I am learning about the traditions that Westsiders hold dear in a multitude of ways. People have found me in the hallways to share ideas for activities to do with the children, bringing in models and concepts of ornaments and decorations we can make together at our celebrations.

Committees have worked together planning the Hanging of the Greens party where our congregation will greet the holiday season and bring a festive touch to our sanctuary and building. Rev. Carol has welcomed my bringing the Winter Spiral, a solstice tradition dear to my heart, to this December’s worship cycle. I am consistently delighted at the many ways the children are folded into the congregational life of Westside and how much we all enjoy an excuse to get together and have fun.

Our pageant preparations this year have been a tradition within a tradition. Chris Edkins has written an original script for us based on the very elements that make the holidays meaningful to us as Westsiders and Unitarian Universalists. The children and youth have poured through costumes from pageants past and found new and inventive ways to reenact these iconic scenes. The stirrings have begun; the excitement is rising.

While I feel the pull towards the joys and bustle of the winter holidays, I’m so grateful to be where I am right at this very moment. Here I have the luxury of gathering my thoughts, of feeling into the holidays, and of doing nothing quite yet. The pauses are the places to keep sight of, for they show us glimpses of what really matters. May you find these times and cherish them throughout this holiday season, and may your Thanksgiving fill you with gratitude for where you are right now.


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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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