I woke early to the pitter patter of little footsteps scurrying across the wooden floor. Who could possibly be up this time of morning? I slipped out of bed and carefully tip toed down the long hall to the kitchen, standing far enough away so he couldn’t see me. There in the dark I saw his tiny shadow. He was peeking. Not at gifts under the tree but into today’s Advent Calendar pocket. He couldn’t wait to see what activity our family had scheduled.
It was a tradition started when our firstborn son was 2 years old. Back then I made my own calendar from a poster board and cut-out squares taped to form the days of December. Coming up with activities to do each day until Christmas was easy when our sons were little. A picture to color. Popcorn and a movie. A countdown chain glued together from colored construction paper. As the years went by, it became more and more challenging for mom and dad. We began including bigger events like Yule Tide at the Indianapolis Symphony. The Christmas Carol at the IRT. Or a live play at Beef n Boards.
Every year we chose to do those same things with our sons. And today it gives me great joy to watch as their family’s Advent Calendars come to life. These kiddos have enjoyed a December filled with surprises and family activities since the time they could walk. It makes me realize how important doing the same thing year after year is to our children.
It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you. I Corinthians 11:2
I love bringing back the warm, fuzzy feelings of my own childhood through traditions my mother began for me. The joy of Christmas celebrations with uncles, aunts and cousins exchanging gifts and feasting on Mom’s home cooking. I don’t ever remember a Christmas without Swedish meatballs and her old-fashioned sugar cookies. Mom was a talented baker. My Grandmother taught her how to make cardamon cinnamon rolls and “pappar kakar” which were a staple every December. I can only imagine how happy Mom would be knowing we’ve not forgotten what she taught us.
These activities remind me of my godly, praying, serving mother heaping the richness of her faith and wisdom on us kids. Our traditions were kind of like stones of remembrance. Triggering memories of days long ago and all that family and faith has meant to generations following.
We read of the traditions families in the Old Testament were commanded to keep. Festivals, Passover, and Feasts all intended as a way to remember what God had done for Israel in the wilderness. They didn’t want their children to be unaware or ever forget the Lord’s provision. So, they set up certain activities to help keep these memories alive. To let them know the love, protection and provision of their God was real and evident in their lives.
This annual festival will be a visible sign to you, like a mark branded on your hand or your forehead. Let it remind you always to recite this teaching of the Lord. With a strong hand the Lord rescued you from Egypt. So, observe this festival at the appointed time each year. Exodus 13:9-10
Our older grandchildren were recalling events from the past recently. The times we got out Great Grandma’s recipes and started re-creating her magic in my kitchen. When I finally let them crack an egg all by themselves. And roll out the dough for warm, frosted cinnamon rolls. They even enjoyed getting their hands into the meat mixture to form those cherished Swedish meatballs, a recipe handed down through generations still being enjoyed today. For some reason, these traditions cause us to remember our godly heritage. Traditions. Stones of Remembrance.
The Lord said to set up stones of remembrance to keep His miraculous blessings alive.
In the future when your children ask you why these stones are here and what they mean you are to tell them that these stones are a reminder of this amazing miracle when the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground. Joshua 4:22
We may not have over-the-top experiences to pass along to our children, but whatever triggers memories of faith and family are invaluable. Traditional dinners with the same menu, repeated activities like hide ‘n seek or Saturday morning donuts, and a familiar family get-away take planning and hard work to carry out. But remember, the simplest memory you can create for your kids brings tons of security and stability into their lives, making lasting impressions that your children will value forever. Creating and re-creating memories that will last a lifetime is actually a very sacred kind of work! Work that pleases our Father in Heaven.