Family, Holidays

Why? It’s Tradition

Before I had children, I said things like “Wouldn’t this be a nice tradition when we have children?” I didn’t know that traditions are unplanned.

The first day of our first beach trip, our sons made a late-night run to the grocery store. I gave them a list, but they had discretion. First-day, late-night grocery runs at the beach as well as purchasing unnecessary items became a “tradition.”

The evening before my sons took their first College Board Advanced Placement tests, my youngest wanted a new pen. Buying a new pen at Wal-Mart the evening before an Advanced Placement test became a “tradition.” Purchasing a pen sooner or at a different store would violate “tradition.”

Christmas morning—minutes before we gather to exchange gifts—my sons scramble to wrap the presents they are giving. Days earlier, I suggest that presents should be wrapped. I remind. I have even said, “Pretend it’s Christmas morning and wrap your presents.” My husband finally told me, “Forget it. Wrapping presents on Christmas morning is a tradition.”

Along the way I learned that traditions are events you either couldn’t stop or didn’t stop from continuing.

What are your unplanned traditions?

God's Faithfulness, Holidays

Holiday Stories: The Endings

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God for it is written ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’

Romans 12:19 (ESV)

My holidays with extended family were filled with stories of past events. (See here.) However, they were also filled with the beginnings and middles of future stories. How would those stories end?

One advantage of being old—I need at least one—is that I have lived to see many endings. I have seen and continue to see the faithfulness of God as he writes the rest of the story.

A sample of endings: Those who were slandered were vindicated. Those who were greedy became impoverished. Those who seemed shallow shared wisdom. Those who were outcasts were given innumerable friends. Those who served the Lord left this earth with honor. Alleged victims were revealed as liars. Enemies were reconciled. Reformed thieves gained trust.

Along the way, I learned that vengeance truly does belong to the Lord. Only he can deal fairly with the hearts of men.

Have you ever wished for a little—or perhaps a lot—of vengeance after a holiday gathering?

Family, Holidays, Sharing Stories

Share the Stories Pt. 2

The upcoming holidays can be rich with stories as well as food.

During visits to father’s parents, I sat at the dining table from one meal until almost time for the next. Why? Stories.

My paternal grandfather only told a couple stories, and my paternal grandmother never told one until I was an adult. However, their sons—my father and his two younger brothers—filled my grandparents’ holiday tables with tales. Mamaw was a skilled cook, but her food is not what I remember.

These brothers became the best storytellers.

The evening’s entertainment by the fire included more stories by the brothers. (Their sister wasn’t given an opportunity.)

The stories entertained, but along the way, I learned their importance. I learned to ask particular questions. (See here.)

Decades ago, I bought It’s Your Story: Pass it On by Colgin and van der Ven. Available on websites selling used books, it is the easiest guide I have found for capturing family history. Reticent family members easily answered the probing and interesting questions.

Has a family story enriched your life?

Holidays, Money

Not a Penny to Waste

When my husband attended one of his first meetings as a new faculty member, what he remembered most was a statement from the head of the business school.

“We have money for everything we need but not a penny to waste.”

Dean Richard Scott

We claimed that declaration as our money mantra, and it outlasted all others. (See here and here) Over the years, we have neglected things we needed and wasted a bit, but it has been a good compass. In times of want we have said, “We have money for everything we need,” and in times of plenty we have said, “We don’t have a penny to waste.”

I especially like the reminder during the holidays when both temptations exist: not allocating enough money for celebrating and unnecessary splurges.

Do any statements guide your money thinking?

Holidays, Memories

Year End Review

The importance of organizing and reviewing family photographs on a regular basis is among the critical things I learned along the way. Photographic records of family history are precious for too many reasons to list here.

Three years ago, we spent New Year’s Day putting the finishing touches on our boys’ photo albums. They now have a visual record from birth through the beginning of college.

As we looked at photographs of events we had forgotten, I wished we had reviewed them on a regular basis. We could have savored the memories. Perhaps we would have implanted them more deeply by discussing the photographs.

‘I don’t remember going there’ are sad words to hear when a family vacation trip was important to you.

Organizing photographs on New Year’s Day would have kept the album work manageable. It would have also given us a family activity on a day that was usually quiet and unscheduled.

News Year’s Day is a time to look forward. It also can be the best time to look back in a practical way, one which will yield fruit for many years.

I implore you to spend time looking at and discussing your photographs with your spouse and children.