When you think about your family’s holiday traditions…what sticks out the most for you?
My fondest memories of Christmas include making chocolate peanut butter fudge with my mom to give to my Grandpa Earl. I also remember the red poinsettia lights that decorated my Grandmother’s living room and the warm, sweet voices of Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole and Burl Ives streaming Christmas carols from the record player. I don’t remember any of the gifts that I got (well, except the homemade pair of purple MC Hammer pants that I received one year – a whole year after they were out of style). But what I do remember, are the stories we shared around the Christmas tree.
The sound of laughter that filled that house every Christmas eve still stirs my heart all these years later. My mom and her brother’s would tell stories of growing up on the farm. Sometimes my Grandmother would swat at one of them because she was just finding out the truth about how he actually broke his arm…or how my mom came to be stuck in the hay loft, not by chance, but as the result of a clever plot…or who it was that knocked down all of the neighborhood mailboxes all those years ago.
Stories are the threads that we weave together to create our family tapestry. I bring stories from my childhood in the boonies of Michigan. My husband brings stories from his childhood in Honduras and about living as an adolescent in the Bronx. Those stories bring insight and experience to our new, combined family. As a family, we are making more stories with our three little boys, who are also off making their own stories at school, down the street, and in the back yard.
The Bible is full of stories. It carries our lineage in it. It has it’s ups and downs, happy times and sad times, times of feast and famine. No matter what we go through in this life, we can look between the covers of the Bible and read about how to make it through. Because, as the saying goes, “unless we learn from our past, we are doomed to repeat it.”
So I decided to start a new tradition this year. On Christmas eve and Christmas day, my family and I will sit down and record our
history – our stories – in a dedicated journal. We’ll celebrate our successes, share our trials and triumphs, and remember the joy, pain, good, and bad from the previous year. We’ll open this journal in the coming years and recollect those memories. We’ll celebrate them again! We’ll learn from our past. We’ll forge ahead with new hope that, because we made it through a difficult time all those years ago – we will make it through this rough patch now.
Why are stories important and why should we record them? Well, the Bible shares the trials of our Jewish and Christian ancestors and marks a path for us to take – we call it the straight and narrow path. We need to do the same for our future generations. You see, each family has it’s own special set of circumstances that follow it through history. When we write down the steps that were taken to stay on the path – or the steps we took that lead us off the path – we can pave the way for our children’s children and help them navigate through life.
Even though you may want to enjoy a quiet holiday, free from all the hustle and bustle and stress from the previous year…I encourage you to tell your kids a story. Ask your friends and neighbors to share some of their stories, and most importantly – ask your kids to share theirs. Start weaving the fabric of your family’s life, one stitch, one story at a time…