The air is getting crisper, the trees are donning their fall colors, and the leaves are starting to drift downward—all signs of the holidays for me. I take a deep breath and fill my lungs with the scent of home, family, warm meals, and memories.
We take the holidays seriously at our house. My husband is typically thinking about Thanksgiving dinner in August, and I usually have my holiday planner ready to go no later than the first of November.
Traditions are treasured ingredients to every holiday. Think for a moment of how powerful your family traditions have been to you. If mom didn’t make a dish one year, if grandma decided not to decorate, if one element was missing the holiday seemed a little less of a celebration. Our traditions, in one sense, make up the essence of our celebration; they almost become what we celebrate. Traditions are powerful, which is why they can be perfect tools for teaching and training, for focusing our families on what we are celebrating, on what is important.
A few years ago, I read a book by Noel Piper called Treasuring God in our Traditions, a beautifully written book (scroll to bottom of this link for the free pdf). Her book highlighted all that I had felt traditions could be, both the big celebratory kind and the everyday treasures, but her philosophy behind traditions was what spoke to me the most. Just like the landmarks and memorials of the Israelites, set up throughout the land so that the children would know about the God of their fathers, traditions are meant to be those teaching moments that captivate all of our senses and emotions and weave them into the fabric of what our lives are about.
Sometimes, however, we become slaves to traditions that mean nothing to us. In fact, traditions can become the very things that cause us to dread the holidays altogether. Are we as keepers of the home and, often by default, keepers of tradition wielding the power that we have to its best purpose? Are we choosing traditions that help us and our families to reflect on the character and courage of our ancestors, on the goodness of our God, and on the purpose of our existence and our celebrations?
Let’s take a moment, before the momentum of the holidays sweeps us away, to re-evaluate what we want to celebrate and how we want to celebrate it. What do you want this Thanksgiving or this Christmas to feel like? What do you want your family to be focusing on over the next few months. What needs to be eliminated and what needs to be added to make that atmosphere come together? And if you’re not sure where to start, read Noel’s book.
If nothing else, let’s make sure that these next few months don’t interfere with our greatest calling: to love our husbands, to love our children, and to love our God.
This post has been edited and republished from my former blog Homekeepers. Over the next several months, I will be merging my two blogs into this one location.