Please welcome my friend Amanda who is here today sharing about family traditions when your family may not be exactly traditional. I know you will enjoy the thoughts she brings to us.
When Linda asked me to write a guest post here at Apron Strings & other things, I jumped at the opportunity. It is such an honor to be asked to participate by this lady who’s been an encouragement to me back when I started my own blog.
Family traditions, do we have any?
However, when I found out the post needed to be about Family Traditions, I kind of panicked. Do we have any, I thought? Our family is not very traditional. I mean sure we have the family gift exchanges and some favorite holiday foods that grace our table each year, but that’s nothing special.
When I was a child we had traditions. My mom didn’t have to work. She and I would spend days before Christmas whipping up at least ten different kinds of Christmas cookies. We’d go on a Christmas shopping trip every year with Aunt Dodie. You could guarantee we’d spend Christmas Eve at Grandma-and-Grandpa-on-the-farm’s house. And Christmas Day was always at our house with Grandma and Grandpa Kissell.
But now as an adult, things are so different. Most of the people involved in the Traditions of Christmases Past are gone. Our family is now a blended one, whose members include police officers, a dispatcher and swing shift workers. We work nights, weekends and holidays. The chances of us organizing a shopping trip together or a cookie baking gathering are pretty slim. We’re lucky to get everyone together for a Christmas meal. Lots of years someone was absent because they had to work. Rarely have we been able to hold our celebration on the actual holiday. It’s hard to maintain traditions when your family structure and lifestyles are not traditional.
What will my children remember?
I was starting to feel sad and about to back out on this post. I wondered to myself, what will my children remember about our Christmases? That they were almost always celebrated on the wrong date? And if they were celebrated on the correct date, we had to clean up early, so Mom could take a nap before she went to work.
Then it hit me as my son Zachary and I were carrying some grocery bags full of stuffing and green beans for our church’s food drive to our truck. While we don’t have traditions that revolve around certain dates and certain times. Neither does ours include spending as much time with our extended family as we would like. But we do have a Tradition that’s been there all along, I just didn’t realize it. It’s the tradition of giving.
One Special Christmas . . .
When I think back on my favorite Childhood Christmas memories, besides the cookie making and the shopping trips and the gatherings on predictable dates at predictable times, I always remember one special Christmas when I was about 7 years old. My mom learned of a family in need of a helping hand and she decided to step in. It was so much fun to shop for and wrap up the dolls, toy trucks, scarves and gloves we had picked out to give them. And if memory serves me correctly, there was a nice food box in addition to the gifts.
I vividly remember being more excited that Christmas Eve about the gifts we were giving than the ones I was going to unwrap the next morning myself. I waited at home with such anticipation for grandpa, who was all decked out in his Santa Suit, to return and tell us how his special delivery went. The best part, the family never knew it came from us. And as far as I know, they still don’t.
I’ve Continued the Tradition of Giving . . .
Without even realizing it, I’ve continued the tradition of giving whenever I could. Sometimes all we could afford to give were just a few sacks of food to the local food pantry. But some years GOD blessed us with the funds to give much more.
One year, we filled the back seat of a family’s vehicle with food and household goods. I would have loved to have seen the look on their faces when they went outside and found their backseat filled to the brim.
Last year was a lean one for us. I recall we could only give one small bag of food to the pantry. It was so small that my son could fit it in his backpack and carry it to school on the bus. It was hard to accept that was all we could give that last year. Our son Zachary was surprised at our small offering too. He remarked how he usually needed driven to school and help carrying our donations inside.
A Community Gift-Giving Project . . .
This year has been so much better. We have been able to donate bags of food several weeks in a row. And we have been blessed to have the funds to participate in a community gift-giving project as well. Several area churches have collected names of people in need. The giving is anonymous (my favorite kind). And everyone chooses a recipient by number. We ended up with an 11 year old boy who wants board games for Christmas. I hope he enjoys them.
We are just giving what we can.
Next year I hope to be able to give even more. And I want to find a way to include the grandchildren in the giving as well. I know we’re not giving thousands of dollars and we’re not giving to lots and lots of people. We are just giving what we can. And we are so thankful, that the Greatest Gift given that ever was or ever will be, provided us with enough to give.
If you’re looking to add a Family Tradition to the ones you already have, consider giving. It’s sure to bless your family, as well as others. And remember, you don’t have to be a Traditional Family to have (or start) a great Family Tradition. In fact, you may already have one and not know it.
Amanda blogged for a time at Busy Mama 911 where her mission was to be a source of encouragement and practical information for busy Mamas everywhere. She has been a full time third shift 911 Dispatcher for over 15 years and an Independent Lilla Rose Consultant but especially enjoys time with her husband, children, step-children and step-grandchildren.