Traditions are something that can be viewed as boring. It’s the holidays; of course you are going to talk about traditions. But, traditions were begun by God, and Scripture is full of God establishing traditions for His children: Camping out in booths for a week each year. Putting blood on your doorpost. I could continue, but you get the point. Traditions help us to remember truths about God, and about His creation. The Christmas season is also filled with tradition. Putting up Christmas trees, singing carols and displaying manger scenes. Some people might take these for granted, but to me traditions are anything but ordinary. Looking back to my childhood, traditions were the lifeblood of my family. We may have been busy, and life may have been hard at points, but traditions were something we always looked forward to. They were a breath of fresh air. Times that taught us to love the family God had given us and bonded us together in fun and joy.
My husband asked me what my favorite tradition was growing up and I don’t know how I could ever choose just one. Even if I just focused on those around the holidays, I would struggle to narrow it down. Each year in the weeks leading up to Christmas, my mom and I would work to perfect my great-grandpa’s caramels. Some years they would turn out like hard candy, other years they would be ice cream topping; but nothing tasted better to me than that first spoonful of warm caramel straight from the stock pot. It took more than twenty years, but we have now gotten them pretty near perfect. Maybe my favorite tradition would be our annual Sleep Under The Tree Night. My mom would make every kind of delicious finger food imaginable and we would spend an evening with each other (and any friends that may have been invited) playing games, talking, and eventually sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags around the Christmas tree. These are just two of many many traditions we had. Nothing elaborate or expensive, just activities for the family to be together.
As I think of my children and what I want for my family now, this is something that is very important to me. I want the love and camaraderie that is built on traditions. My desire is that my children grow up knowing who they are and what family they come from. I want there to be a sense of fun and joy and a knowledge of God’s goodness in the gift of the family He has given them.
So how do we do this? We carry on some traditions and we start new ones. We pack up our children and do Sleep Under The Tree Night at Nana and Papa’s house with all of my siblings and their children as well. This year there will be twenty people sleeping around that Christmas tree. Then, we do it with our own family unit as well.
I will be going to my mom’s today to make those caramels with her and my grandma, but instead of being the one to lick the warm caramel off the spoon, I will get to see the joy in the eyes of my daughters as they do it. They will see the importance of generations and learning from those who are older and wiser than us all while making something that will bring great joy to others.
As my husband and I have started a family of our own, we make our own traditions as well. In a few weeks my husband will pack up three very giddy little girls (as he has each year since our oldest was in diapers) to pick out Christmas dresses, and in doing so they will see a father who takes joy in giving his children good gifts, just like our Heavenly Father did in sending Jesus to earth to be our Savior.
After five years of marriage, we have a handful of our own children, unique traditions, and who knows how many more we’ll make throughout the years? It is never too early or too late to begin making traditions. Get your family and do something that bonds you together. Be silly, have fun, find joy, and don’t just keep the traditions to the holidays, have them all throughout the year. There never needs to be a reason to rejoice in the family God has given you.
Contributed by Elizabeth Rethorn