I grew up in the same small town where my dad was raised… and his parents… and their parents. And when I was in kindergarten my mom’s parents moved into town as well. Tradition wasn’t something I needed to look very far to find. We had Sunday dinners at my Grandma’s house, birthday celebrations that included both sets of grandparents and other extended family, and more holiday celebrations than time. My small (2000 people), midwestern hometown also had traditions of its own, the annual festival being my favorite.
Within my family of 5, it was well-known that I loved tradition. If my mom tried to change anything from “the way we’d always done it”, she knew she would hear about it from me. I like to think she appreciated that about me, but more likely it just made her crazy!
So imagine everyone’s surprise when I ended up with a transient lifestyle; no quaint hometown, no roots running deep, no extended family, and no tradition. What was this tradition-obsessed, midwestern girl to do?
Yes, I did that. I grieved and cried over the traditions my children would not have. I cried over the traditions I missed back home year after year. I did. But it didn’t end there. It didn’t end there because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my family was and is following the path that God had set out for us. And His path is not one of grief and despair, it is one of joy and immense satisfaction.
So I chose to bloom wherever we are planted. I chose to create traditions that can travel. And do you know what I’ve found? Especially living in a place with so many transient families, I am able to bless other moms and families who may be grieving the traditions of their hometowns and help them start new traditions of their own. If you are in a situation removed from the traditions of your childhood, here is my list of “Transient Traditions” to enjoy wherever you are.
–Host a holiday with friends. This year I’m going a step further and instead of everyone coming over with their prepared food, my friends are coming over to prepare Thanksgiving together.
–Host a Cookie Exchange. This is my favorite event to host each year, especially here in Geneva. Everyone brings 4 dozen cookies to exchange with each other. The best part is that we tell the stories behind our cookies. For example, the cookies I make are a recipe I’ve been making with my mom since I can remember.
–Put the star on the tree. The star that goes on my Christmas tree was purchased at Target for about $10, but it has become a special heirloom to us. After the tree is decorated, one of the kids has the privilege of putting the star on top. As soon as Halloween is over, they start asking whose turn it is this year!
–Have a Birthday Party for Jesus. Because we travel every year for Christmas, we celebrate early at our home. On a Saturday or Sunday morning in early December, no presents are opened until after the Birthday party. We have a cake and sing Happy Birthday. Then, one child opens the first gift. The first gift is ALWAYS the Baby Jesus from one of their nativity sets. This reminds them that the greatest gift we’ve been given is Jesus, born on Christmas Day.
–Celebrate in style. Since we’ve lived in Geneva, we haven’t traveled “home” for Christmas. We have taken a trip instead. One of the highlights of these trips has been the special Christmas dinners we have had. I do some research and book a special dinner, and we all dress up for the occasion.
If you’re grieving traditions of the past, I hope you’ll give some of these new traditions a try…or come up with some of your own! I pray that they will bring your family joy during the upcoming Holiday season.