Sharing your family story

ornament

One of the things my kids love is family traditions. We have to be cautious of what we do, especially during the holidays, because if we’re not careful it may become a tradition that MUST be done EVERY year from now into eternity. Sometimes, when we’re not looking, the kids will even invent traditions and act like it’s something we’ve always done.

Sydney: It’s Christmas time, remember that every night we sit as a family around the fire place and pray to Jesus.

Me: Uhhhh, we don’t do that.

Sydney: Yes we do, remember? Last year we would light a fire every night and sit on the floor around the fireplace and pray as a family.

Aaron: Sydney, we didn’t do that last year. We don’t even need a fire every night because we live in Houston. We pray every night, just not around the fire place.

Sydney: No, we always pray around the fireplace. You don’t remember?

Me: No. Because it didn’t happen.

Sydney: Well, now it does.

So around this house we sit around the fireplace (usually without a fire because you have to draw the line somewhere) and pray to Jesus. We also have an advent calendar, a Jesse tree devotional and a live Christmas tree. We decorate Christmas cookies, rearrange the nativity sets daily and make peppermint bark. I’ve managed to hold out on the Elf on the Shelf, because clearly our dogs have poor manners and would love to eat a cute little elf that moves around every night.

Sometimes these traditions can be fun but a little wearying, especially with the busyness of life with four kids of such differing skill and maturity levels. However, one that I never expected the kids to enjoy so much, and that I find myself really looking forward to, is sharing our family stories. We stumbled into this one a couple of years ago when we were telling the kids why we do some of the things we do at Christmas, and now they can’t get enough of them.

Gwen: Mom, tell the story about collecting Christmas trees again.

Layla: Dad, tell us about the time mom called and yelled at you because the tree fell over.

It’s so fun to sit around the dinner table and laugh about events that happened years ago. The girls have started to feel a connection to things that occurred before they were born, and through our stories they are getting to know family members that they don’t get to see very often. When we talk about Uncle George in St. Louis, they may not be able to picture his face, but they know him because they think it’s hilarious that Layla called him Monkey George when she was two. We’re building a collective family memory that strengthens our ties to each other and shows the kids that they are part of something important that is bigger and deeper than our small family unit.

As a bonus, it doesn’t involve cooking, glitter, firewood, or any work at all. All we have to do is take the time to talk together. That’s a tradition I can get behind.

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