This past week, my six-year old grandson sent me a letter from his school asking me to share family traditions from my childhood. After reading this to the family today around the Thanksgiving table, it occurred to me that it might be of value here. Obviously each tradition is treated very briefly here, so it may well be that some are the topics of future blog posts and tweets. The following is my return letter sharing the traditions of my family. It should be noted that Grady goes to a public school and this, or portions of it, will be read to the class.
November 24, 2011
November 24, 2011
I’m writing to tell you about some of the traditions in our family that I remember from when I was your age. It is important to know how long some of these traditions have been in our family. It is also important to know why some of these traditions have continued all through the years.
The first tradition that came to my mind was regular church attendance. Our family has been one that has valued faith and a relationship with God. We express that relationship by getting together with God’s people each week to thank Him and honor Him. We also need the encouragement of each other as we try to live lives that are pleasing to God. My mom, your great-grandmother, was awarded a Bible for seven years of perfect Sunday School attendance. We have books and Bibles dating back to 1873 in the foyer at Mimi and Papa’s place that confirm this tradition has been going for over 125 years! I hope you’ll keep this tradition going.
My dad, your great-grandfather, worked in his dad’s business when I was your age. They sold Plymouth cars, Allis Chalmers tractors, and Fargo trucks. He worked there with his brother and brother-in-law. He knew the importance of work and keeping your word in dealing with people. There is a practice of character and wisdom that was practiced in our home and must be practiced in your home in order for this to continue in our family. People will trust a man who is consistent in keeping his word and consistent in respecting other people as having needs and ambitions just as you do. Working to accomplish a fair deal for both you and the other person demonstrates how you respect others. This is an important tradition to pass on to your children.
My grandfather was active in the leadership of his church and a mentor to several men. My dad carried on in this leadership tradition and mentored in several ministries during his life. This also became a role that I would play in several of the churches Mimi and I attended. I have adopted a lifestyle of mentoring other men. This is now a role that your dad is filling at New Life Church as Minister to Men and both Uncle Gus and your dad lead fathering retreats to help dads learn how to be better dads. This spiritual leadership and mentoring role is becoming a tradition in our family that goes back several generations.
My dad modeled leadership in the change of direction for our family. He saw some unhealthy patterns in his mom and dad’s relationship and determined to change some of those in his home. One of those things was that he often told my mom how much he loved her. He said those things while we kids were around so that we would catch a good habit and tradition. I have tried to faithfully carry that into my marriage and hope you will do the same. I hope your wife feels totally loved by you and your children see that love.
Your great grandfathers and great-great grandfathers were students and teachers of the Bible. That love of growing in the knowledge of God and living by those principles has carried into our family and into yours. Mimi and I are blessed to see your sisters and your cousins continue that interest in understanding the source of true wisdom. Hopefully you will catch the importance of that as well.
This is the Christmas season and a tradition that has carried forward from my grandfather (and probably his grandfather) is that we read the story of Christ’s birth before opening the gifts that we give to each other. It is important to remember that God’s gift to us was Christ coming to earth as a baby, who then grew up just like you and me. Many would like to take Christ out of Christmas by just calling this time of year the Holiday Season, but as Christians we do not want to forget why we have a celebration and give each other gifts at this time of year.
These are just a few of the traditions that have been carried down through the generations in our family. I love you and am really glad you asked the question about our traditions.