Traditions are meaningful. They provide a relational continuity from one year to the next. These moments allow family and friends to look forward to an annual event to affirm and deepen one’s connection with another person or group of persons. Looking back on them, they create nostalgia over sharing life with a friend or family member. When a new year comes, traditions instill hopeful anticipation and excitement as we look forward to an event that will give us joy. Traditions are good.
I enjoy traditions. At Christmas our family has several meaningful traditions:
- We decorate the home the weekend after Thanksgiving. Ryan and I enjoy stringing the lights outside while Penny and Ashleigh set up the inside decorations. This year Ryan hung most of the lights by himself (with my supervision of course).
- Several years ago we established the tradition of cutting down a live Christmas tree. Yes, we go to a farm not some random person’s home with an evergreen in their front year under the cover of darkness.
- We celebrate a community’s holiday walk with dear friends. We laugh. We talk. We eat the samples offered by various stores. And we affirm our friendship.
- We choose an evening to see the holiday lights. We make a hot cup of coca, jump in the car, and see the homes in our neighborhood decorated with lights and music.
- We go to Barnes & Noble and purchase some nice personal items followed by pizza and a Christmas movie.
It seems that our traditions are growing each year. Soon we might have 25 traditions in December. It will become the Gushiken Advent Experience.
Traditions are wonderful because they celebrate relationships, in this case our family. They remind us of what is important. These moments allow us to push back on the busyness and affirm what is most important in life.
Oftentimes, we do not purchase gifts, especially for birthdays. Our practice is to choose an activity. Usually, we find some experience that is new to us as a family. The rationale is that tangible gifts are nice but in the end hollow. They eventually get tossed in the corner, break down, or even returned. Experiences grow fonder. We look back at these experiences and smile at the laughter and joy in those moments. These times have been true gifts, ones that I would never trade in, especially when the kids are older.
God knew that experiences are more meaningful and lasting whereas possessions are temporary and fleeting. This truth is one reason God sent Christ to us rather than a physical, inanimate blessing. Christ is the ultimate experience. He always grows fonder as we reflect on His forgiveness and grace in our lives. He sustains us in the midst of difficulties and celebrates with us in the highs of life. And He knows the future, those moments where we will need Him most. As we celebrate our traditions this Christmas, let us be reminded of the eternal relationship we have with Christ.