When I hear the word Tradition I get an uneasy, uncomfortable feeling. Besides making me think of that horrible Barbara Steisdand movie (sorry ladies, I’m not a fan), the word Tradition makes me think of boring churches, old colleges, and mistakes that I repeat constantly. For instance, it’s a tradition that I must stub my toe on the frame of any door when walking through the house at night. If I’m not careful, I can turn the word tradition into something bad, and yet it doesn’t have to be.
As the parents to three kids, my wife and I are the people that create memories (or traditions) for our kids at Christmas time. We consider ourselves the chief memory-makers in our house, and part of the responsibility means that I start traditions for my family. For example, for the past three years we have honored the Advent schedule throughout December. We will light our candles, and more importantly take time every Sunday leading up to Christmas looking forward to the birth of Jesus; and his eventual return to earth!
We have also started a tradition of putting the kids in bed, and then 10 minutes later screaming and running into their rooms and hurriedly dragging them to the car to go look at Christmas lights throughout the city. We’ve done it enough times now, that they know its coming…but they never know what night it will happen on this year. We wait to open all the gifts until Christmas morning, even though it’s tough to have something your kids desperately want and not give it to them immediately. Along with eating breakfast together on Christmas morning, wearing pajamas most of the day, and listening to Christmas music we have many other simple easy traditions that allow our kids to grow up with some happy and favorite memories.
But our favorite tradition that we’ve started over the years to taking time to give a gift to charity together. This gift costs us something, because our kids know that instead of the usual 3 gifts from Mom and Dad, they will only get 2 gifts a piece if we choose to give one away. It started with a donation to build a well with Charity: Water, and then last year we bought a goat through Heifer International. This year we’ve made a donation to the Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts through Compassion International. We took time as a family to fill in all the giving information online, watching videos about Haiti, and prayed that our small gift would make a difference in Haiti.
See, not all traditions are all bad. The key is in starting traditions that are worth repeating. No matter the age, the season of life, or the economic condition we can all make giving a tradition worth starting today!
You can read more from Jonathan at jonathancliff.com