Treasuring God in Our Traditions

Posted by  | Wednesday, August 13, 2008  at 2:41 PM  
When we first added this week's topic to our schedule, I immediately knew that I would reference Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper (wife of John Piper). Like Leah mentioned, we are a young family and our traditions are still being established - so I don't have a plethora of ideas. I absolutely love hearing about other families and considering how to incorporate traditions in our own family.

The inside book jacket reads, "Will the next generation treasure God because of our family traditions?" She encourages families' that "with family traditions rooted firmly in the Bible, the next generation absorbs the truth that the treasure we have in God is ancient in wisdom and strength - and fresh as the morning dew."

What a precious truth to pass on to my children! Her book not only encourages families to keep our traditions Christ centered, but also includes many practical ideas for incorporating such traditions. I think it is so important to remember that this will look different for every family. Here are some of the traditions that we have considered for our family.

1. During Advent, we read a devotional provided by our church to prepare for Christmas. This will become even more important as our children get older.

2. Each year at Christmas, each child gets a new ornament that is somehow related to that year of life. This is something that my Mom did for myself and my brother. When I got married and left home, I had a collected of almost 20 ornaments to take with me! We've already started this one with both of our children. In fact, our ornament collection is quite extensive already, but will be ready to pass on when our children are grown.

3. At Christmas we also do stockings and gifts, but have not yet decided on the "Santa" issue. Up until this point, all gifts to Will have been from us. Jacob and I grew up with very different traditions when it comes to Santa. His family did not have "Santa" - only gifts from each other. My family definitely did Santa - down the exact same number of gifts for each my brother and I. We are still deciding on this one, but will probably fall somewhere in the middle. Along these lines, I have had others recommend the idea of giving each child three gifts based on the three gifts brought by the wisemen to Jesus. Just another idea to consider!

4. When Jacob and I did our marriage counseling, our pastor shared a tradition with us that we have both remembered. His family (three children - all grown now) all slept under the Christmas tree in their living room on Christmas eve. We plan to implement this one once our children are grown and can sleep outside of the Pack N' Play! :)

5. Another one mentioned by Stacey is the use of a "kid-friendly" nativity set. Last year, Will go the Fisher Price Little People set and I look forward to using that for him to visualize Bethlehem each Christmas season. In the book by Noel, she mentions a traditon of having a "Bethlehem Tree' where different items are hung to symbolize aspects of Jesus' life and biblical truths. For example, a cross or nails symbolizing the crucifixion. The possibilities are really endless. This could be a kid friendly tree as well with all ornaments they can touch. (I know our "real" tree is definitely a no touch zone!)

All examples thus far have been about Christmas, but there are so many opportunities for establishing traditions with our families. Birthdays, baby showers, weddings, other holidays and every day occurrences like mealtimes. Someday, I would like to use our fine china (my grandmothers!) to have tea parties with my daughter on her birthday. Taking each child on their own special "dates" with Mom and/or Dad. Attending a special event at church - ours does a Moravian Love Feast on Christmas Eve that we always look forward too. Having a special Saturday morning breakfast together each week. Decorating easter eggs. Using a special plate to honor the birthday boy or girl.

Take time with your spouse to consider and pray for intentional ways you can incorporate Christ-honoring traditions in your family! You and your children will be richly blessed.

Please tell us your family traditions so we can all get new ideas.


Leah said...

You mentioned using your fine china for tea parties with your daughter(s). One of my favorite family traditions (and one that I have started to incorporate) was that my mother would use her fine china for every special occasion. Her china did not sit in a cabinet only to be admired--it was brought out and used regularly, for every family member's birthday, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, and more. I am the oldest of four children, so we had a lot of birthdays to celebrate--and the fine china came out for our birthday dinner every year! Using the china made each occasion seem even more special, and in its turn, we learned from a young age to handle certain things with care, but to not worry about it as well. I intend to do the same thing with our family, and have already started down that road some.

ChezDeshotels said...

Family Traditions to Share:

1. Dinner Party Night

My mom and I love to collect dishes etc to set tables and my sisters, mom, and I have taken classes on napkin folding and entertaining not to mention we all watch food network. So once a month one of us has a dinner party to host the others. We do theme dinners, ethnic cuisine, whatever sounds fun, sometimes the dishes are old favorites and sometimes they are new a crazy. (we always keep PB & J on hand) This is a fun way to teach tables manners, etiquette, and family and friend fellowship. This is usually dress up as the theme or a Sunday clothes party. China is always more fun when you are dressed up. For an example I just made Chinese Food, we ate with chopsticks, and had fortune cookies but we also focused on praying for China and the openness of the country due to the Olympic Games. Be creative and have fun!

2. Adoption Day and UN-birthdays

Growing up we celebrated one day a year as un-birthday and I have continued that and it is a surprise on the day to everyone but me and I decorate the house and we have a un-birthday celebration with games, cake, small token gifts etc. It is a lot of fun!
Adoption day, since our daughter is adopted from Asia we make a big deal about her adoption day she helps make special adoption cake, we read the story I wrote for her about her adoption and we do a fun family activity (ie…zoo, swimming etc)

3. World Christmas Tree:

Each year at Christmas, as I said we go big at Christmas when I posted a day or so ago and each year I have a small Christmas tree that has flags of many countries and also names of families and workers in those countries. Each night of December I share a little about that country and we pray for the m’s working there. At the last Sunday before Christmas we grab the topper which is our Lottie Moon offering envelope and give what the Lord has laid on our hearts.

4. Toy Tree and Cookie Tree

I put up a tree in my kitchen with cookie cutters I get cheap after X-mas the year before and fill the tree with those and when people (adults) come to visit during the holidays they can pick a cookie cutter with my X-mas cookie recipe attached and take home a bag of mix to go with it.
We also have a toy tree that is I collect candy canes and small stuffed animals etc…and that is how I decorate that tree and when kids come to visit they get to choose a toy and candy cane. Any toys left go to a local charity.

5. Winter Picnic:
When it is really cold outside my whole family gets together and when they arrive at the host house they have to wear summer clothes and we light the fireplace and have a traditional summer fried chicken picnic. And we look back at the scrapbooks we have done in past summers.

6. Fall Festival:

Each year around Halloween we host the farm life fall festival and we have a costume parade, hayride, apple bobbing and a chili cook-off and smores this includes as high as 50 people.

7. Birthday Gifts:

For our daughter’s birthday we get her gifts but we ask all attendants of her birthday party to bring something for a charity….last year we collected items for the local crisis pregnancy center and this year we are getting blankets to send to the orphanage where she came from. We feel this teaches her about giving and serving and also keeps my sanity with the amount of toys HAHAH.

OKAY I will shut up now but as you can see traditions and celebrations were huge in my family growing up. My mom was extremely creative and I have taken over many of those traditions and I have also added many to my list. It was some of my best memories and I want it to be some of my children’s best. I have written a family cookbook/party/tradition book so if I can give anyone any other ideas and recipes let me know because there is a bunch. Thanks for letting me share what is very important in our clan.


Shannon said...

Wow! I love all these great ideas!!! What is a Moravian Love Feast? I'm dying to know...

Our China was lost in Hurricane Rita, but I know Maggie would really LOVE if we ate on fine china for special occasions - she loves her tea set.

I also love the idea of a world Christmas tree.

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