Keeping the Tradition Going

June 11, 2014

I used to think that traditions weren’t necessary, but one year when our family spent Thanksgiving away from home, the boys mentioned that they wouldn’t have my rolls, cranberry salad, and yams so it wouldn’t seem like Thanksgiving. They made me wonder...

What was the importance of traditions?

1.  Traditions help unify people, and give common ground.

When I was a girl, Labor Day and Memorial Day with my family meant a work day—we started and ended the garden on those days. We worked as a family.

When I married, I quickly learned my husband’s Mexican heritage meant any meal was a time for visitors. People came without invitation and stayed for dinner. Coming from a family who lived far from family and did not have any guests, this was an adjustment for me.

Early in our marriage, I noticed that the quiet holidays were difficult for my husband. Now we invite others to share those holidays (not the same as just family). Eating with others bonds in some unexplainable way.

Growing up, my family decorated the Christmas tree together. When I tried to instill the same tradition with our boys, I quickly learned sisters want to decorate, but boys must be coerced to decorate. Rather than suffering through the ‘decorating experience’ and becoming frustrated by their lack of zeal, the youngest (who still thinks it’s fun) decorates the entire thing (lop-sided though it be). Perhaps that tradition wasn’t meant to be carried to the next generation. (I’ve chosen to preserve the unity of family by avoiding that tradition.)

2.  Traditions help give roots, make memories, and provide security and structure.

The boys choose their birthday dinner and dessert and invite whom they wish to share the meal. It is interesting to see who they invite. Most times it isn’t a family with children their own age, but a man who took them fishing or a couple who helped them in some way.

Sunday mornings during the winter, the boys wake to the smell of cinnamon rolls baking or cherry pies cooking--and they know their Sunday breakfast tradition will be complete.

Each year for Christmas, I bake sweet bread for my husband’s staff. "Aren’t the girls tired of the same thing year after year?" I ask every year. My husband informs me that they aren’t.

Now that we have a grandchild, we evaluate what is important more than before. We see if those things we thought were important were really important to our children. We find some things we assumed were essential may not be.

Christmas cannot always be total family. We make it what we can with what children can come. By fretting over what can’t be, we miss the opportunity to live what is.

We allow our grown children to establish their own set of traditions. Keeping the Memories...

3.  Traditions teach lessons.

We repeat events to help us remember.

Deuteronomy is filled with examples of traditions. Pile rocks here--and when your children ask why, you tell them what the Lord did. “Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

The Lord’s Supper: “do this in remembrance of Me.” (I Corinthians 11:24)

Many of the Jewish Holidays are remembering days--the Passover: remember when the Death Angel passed over those who had the blood on the doorpost. Even the Sabbath: remember that in six days God created the heavens and the earth.

Lessons that unify, give roots and teach.

What traditions will my boys remember and establish with their own families?

What traditions could you not live without? How do you keep them going?

Recipes mentioned can be found here

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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