Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to Create Family Traditions

Memories (not all of them but some of them) should be
planned with the same careful kind of planning one would
give to planning a museum. A family life in retrospect should
be a museum of diverse and greatly varied memories, with
a unity that makes the grouping of people involved share
at least many if not all of the overlapping memories.

~Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family?

By Weekly Contributor, Kim Brenneman, Large Family Logistics

Think back to your childhood home and family. Likely you have memories of daily rituals of food, smells, and sights. Did your family have a daily prayer time? Additionally, there are seasonal memories like raking leaves, smells of fall, apples, and pumpkins; sledding and hot chocolate; Christmas albums played in your home; the smell of tilling the garden and planting seeds or flowers; summer ball games, hot humid air, swimming, popsicles. Memories are connected with our senses. We know what the air felt like, the smells, the tastes of certain foods and when these things are connected with good and happy experiences they are a powerful comfort when we get the slightest experience of them again. A certain scent or feel in the air can bring a surge of memories from the past.

Memories of traditions are part of who we are as people. When a time of day comes around, a season or a holiday we have expectations for good things to happen. We want to relive a time in life. A deep part of us remembers something that fills us with love and hope. As mothers we have the power to create experiences that impact our families for their good. What will they remember every Christmas for their whole life?

As Christians we are mandated to teach our children the Shema from Deuteronomy 6, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Our traditions should point our children to that truth.

That can be done easily through an attitude of prayerful thankfulness that comes out of our mouth all the time. “Isn’t God good to us? He has given us _________.” That truth can be expressed in our daily routines when we put oatmeal on the table with honey and raisins and it can be expressed on Independence Day when we stand for the flag during the  town parade.

God marked the Hebrew calendar with feasts and celebrations to bring the focus to Him and the great things He has done. He gave us six days of work and a day of rest, set apart for Him. He is a God of order and a God of remembrance and festivals. The greatest event of all time happened when God sent us Jesus as a baby, to grow up as man, who lived a perfect life, suffered and died on the cross for our sins, rose again conquering death so that we may live with Him forever. We may not know when He was exactly born. We might not have done as the church fathers of the past did by replacing a pagan celebration with a holy day. But God is sovereign. He has a plan. Today we live in a culture that does not worship the idols of the past but is consumed with commercialism, materialism, selfishness.  We must keep our families and our feasts and celebrations centered on Christ.

How do we do this? We moms are busy enough with managing schedules, laundry, dishes, cleaning, and the rest. Add in a holiday and we are tipping towards chaos. I don’t think that God meant for feasts and celebrations to bring on burnout. Let’s first fix ourselves by taking our eyes off of the work and putting it onto Christ. Make Him your partner and talk to Jesus about your plans and your work all the day long.

As you create the traditions of your days and seasons and holidays with their scents, sights, tastes, and experiences of love and goodness keep them Jesus-centered. Remind your children of the good things that God has done for us, for you, for your family. Tell your children why we do certain things. Big speeches are not necessary, although sometimes a presentation is appropriate, but talk to your children in your everyday conversations as you work, bringing up the whys and hows of your family’s actions.

Someday our children will be grown, creating their own homes and family traditions. They will have memories of their childhood that will be warm and comforting, and if we have done our job right they will know why we celebrate and do the things we do. A valid tradition is one in which our children will in turn teach their children, The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.


Kim Brenneman

Kim is the joyful wife of Matt and the blessed mother of nine children.

When not busy homeschooling and farmschooling, she enjoys writing, gardening, cooking, reading, sewing, and crafting.

Kim lives on a farm in Iowa where her family grows beef cattle, corn and beans, and operates a micro-dairy selling cheese at farmer’s markets. She loves to write and speak about her passion for home and family. She is the author of Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family. She blogs about the same subject at:

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