Traditions DO matter!
They don't have to be elaborate. They needn't be costly. They shouldn't involve guilt or condemnation.
But they should happen!
Traditions serve as a thread weaving the craziness and chaos of our lives into a tapestry that makes some sense. Now truth is, every one of us has someone in our family who is a "little odd," "eccentric," "different." And contact with these people sometimes inhibits our holiday celebrations.
(I hear someone out there saying, "No, Girl. My relatives are straight up NUTS!" Well, perhaps.)
The fact remains that too many of us opt out of participating in traditions/family gatherings simply because we've determined that they add stress. I'll leave the "family" issues for another post. But the traditions..........
Please allow me to encourage you; I've found them to be incredibly important. (And bear in mind that this post is coming to you from one of God's most UN-organized children.)
Thanksgiving, for us, brought very simple traditions. These mostly revolve around menu choices. And decorating themes.
But we also give thanks in a different kind of way. Two kernels of corn are placed on each dinner plate. Before we serve the meal, Dad takes a small bowl and drops his kernels in one at a time while telling two things he's thankful for. Each family member then follows suite.
(This year, someone got the bright idea that we should play a trick on Nathan - the Original Prankster. Frank gave him twenty kernels of corn and explained, "The new person lists more things than the others. It helps us get to know them. Okay, GO...." Glad Nathan is such a good sport!)
When we put up our Christmas tree, we listen to Handel's Messiah and top the evening with hot drinks like cider or cocoa. We enjoy the finished project by rehearsing how the tree points to Christ: Green - Everlasting Life; Lights - He is the light of the world; Red beads - He shed His blood for our salvation, etc.
The grand finale involves a walk down our driveway and to the road. On Dad's count, we all turn at the same time to behold the wonder of "Our Christmas Tree!" (I'll try to include more of these over the coming weeks if you'd like.)
I'm simply saying this - even if you have NO family traditions at this point, start some. You'll be amazed at how quickly and adamantly your children will catch on. Even something as insignificant as "angel vs. star tree topper" can become a benchmark issue.
On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving three years ago, my sweet mom went to Heaven. She left behind a fierce desire to keep family connected; even the crazy ones! The ache in my heart is somehow soothed by knowing that she lives on in the traditions we've adopted and added to.
Simple things she did with her mom (who was born in 1902) will continue with my grandchildren! That's a legacy worth perpetuating.