RITE OF PASSAGE: Family traditions and memories
How do you bless your family after your children are grown? Now that both my sons are married, my wife and I want to take them and our daughters-in-love on a family vacation. Since I’m a missionary, I don’t have the wealth of the world in my bank account. I spent months watching and waiting for good prices on airline tickets. I finally found them. Then, I searched for a nice but affordable place to stay. I finally found that. I rented a house so we will have a common area to play games, talk and spend time together. When the property manager asked what we hope to do while visiting their quaint town, I replied, “Make memories.”
When I was a young boy, my parents bought a tiny red table. Take a metal card table, shrink it to a third of its original size, paint it fire engine red, and you can picture the one in the Moore home. This table came with four matching folding chairs (also fire engine red). Each Sunday night of my early childhood, the same thing happened. My parents got out the red table and chairs for my brothers and me, cooked hamburgers and served them on plates with pork-n-beans and potato chips. Then they turned the television to “Lassie.” Every week, our family watched “Lassie” together while eating hamburgers and scooping up our pork-n-beans with the chips. To this day, one of my favorite meals is a hamburger, pork-n-beans and chips. (And yes, I still use a potato chip to scoop up my pork-n-beans).
The red table, hamburger dinner and “Lassie” became a family tradition. Good family traditions turn into good memories. Many of you had similar family traditions ingrained into your lives as young children. Maybe you went to your grandparents’ every summer or attended a family reunion. Maybe your family went to the State Fair and ate cotton candy. Maybe your family attended a Christmas Eve service each year. Whatever the tradition, it left you with some good memories.
One of the many regrets I have as a father is that I didn’t build enough traditions into my family. My boys may remember going to eat at El Chico after church every Sunday so my wife could have a day off. They may recall going to summer camp with the big kids every year. They may remember some of our family vacations. One year, I took them to Key West, Fla. But when it comes down to it, I wasn’t intentional enough in building memories into my children. The only tradition I know they’ve picked up happens at Thanksgiving. Before we eat our meal, we go around the table one at a time and share what we’re thankful for. Last year, we went to our son’s home for Thanksgiving. When we sat down at the dinner table, he led in our family tradition without any prompting from Mom or Dad.
Can it ever be too late to start building memories and family traditions? I hope not. I am asking the Lord to help me create new traditions in our family that, even after I have gone home to be with the Lord, will become an important part of . . . theirs. God thinks traditions are important, and He encourages us to build memories into our family life. If you read the Bible, you see that He was always telling his people to remember one thing or another. God instituted the seven feasts of the Old Testament because He knew that those traditions would help His people remember the great things He had done. He also understood that good memories become a source of comfort and hope.
The other day my little great-niece (who comes to our house often) received a special gift from her Uncle Walker. Now when she visits us, she has a little red table of her own. Soon, I’ll have to teach her how to scoop up her pork-n-beans with a potato chip. And I pray that the love that surrounds these traditions will always be more important than the traditions themselves.
“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
Father, today I confess that in my haste to build my kingdom I forgot to ask Your help to instill traditions and memories in my sons. Would you help me find ways to recapture this area? I want to show my family that the love we have for one another comes . . . from You. Amen.