January 5, 2009
New Year’s Traditions
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)
In December, my friend Karen challenged her blog readers to think about our Christmas traditions, and determine if certain traditions were worth continuing or simply another “one more-thing-to-do-but-nobody-really-cares-about” tradition.
While driving to school one morning, I asked my daughters what their favorite Christmas traditions were at our house. They quickly answered in unison, "We don’t have any traditions at our house." My heart sunk. I replied with irritation in my voice, "You mean all these years I have been trying to make special Christmas memories for all of you and you honestly think we don’t have any special traditions?!"
I could feel my holiday spirit diminishing as my blood pressure rose. They seemed a little scared about what to say next to their mom who was hyperventilating behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. So they meekly asked me to describe some of the traditions that I was referring to. I provided an exhaustive list of family holiday activities and other things we have done every year since their birth, for goodness sake!
When I stopped to take a breath, as they sat wide-eyed at my flurried rundown of the Miles’ Christmas traditions, one said, "Oh, I just thought those were the things we do every year; I didn’t know they were traditions."
Okay, so at least they were aware of our family traditions and truly did treasure them. The problem was that they never considered them "traditions," because they didn’t understand the meaning of the word.
Later, I looked up the definition of “tradition.” The first definition is, “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.” The second definition read, “a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting and a continuing pattern of culture, beliefs or practices.”
When I read the second definition, still feeling a little perturbed about the lack of appreciation for all of my holiday attentiveness over the years, I felt God gently speak to my heart. With a fatherly voice He said, "Tracie, the tangible traditions that we carry out are not the only things we pass down to our kids; the true traditions come from the heart."
The thought almost stopped me in my tracks. I realized I had been fretting over my children remembering that we drank hot chocolate while putting up our Christmas trees, when I should really be focusing on the spiritual traditions that I am creating throughout the year in their hearts.
As a result, I made a New Year’s resolution to focus on the spiritual traditions that I can pass down throughout the entire year in the Miles’ home. Traditions that will matter long term, and make a difference in the hearts of others. Traditions like the importance of attending church and doing Bible studies to learn about God’s Word; helping families in need; putting others first; caring about our sisters and brothers; honoring my husband; being respectful to parents and elders; being polite and considerate; forgiving others; and making Christ a priority year round, not just at Christmas.
But most of all, I don’t want these spiritual traditions to be passed down simply by word of mouth, but rather by practice and a continuing pattern of others seeing God at work in me. I know I need to live out these traditions in my own life before I can pass them down to anyone else. The tradition of making Jesus a priority, is a tradition worth passing down.
Dear Lord, Forgive me for losing sight at times of what is really important. Help me to see ways I can build new spiritual traditions in my home which will impact hearts and lives for generations to come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Homespun Memories for the Heart by Karen Ehman, Kelly Hovermale and Trish Smith
Love Notes in Lunchboxes by Linda Gilden
For other great ways to start the New Year, visit Tracie’s blog
It is never too late to start new traditions. Ask God to show you what new traditions you can begin in your family to help them learn to depend on God’s Word and His activity in their lives.
Consider what traditions you focus on in your house. Are they all attached to a holiday, or are there spiritual traditions that create a bond to Jesus year-round?
If your children were asked what your spiritual traditions were, what would they say?
Mark 7:9, “And he said to them: ’You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!’” (NIV)
© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105