Someone recently asked me, “What were your family’s holiday traditions when you were growing up?” I had to think about that for a minute. I wondered, “Does fighting count as a tradition?” My running joke about my upbringing is that “I was raised by wolves.” Seventies-era “latchkey kids” of divorce without a church family or close relatives, our family was not exactly a nurturing environment. With our single mother struggling to provide for us, sometimes holding down three different jobs, holidays and birthdays were difficult. She did the best she could but there were few resources to foster traditions or togetherness. We were an untraditional family at best.
Jesus Christ rewrote my history when I was 17 years old. At a church camp, I found out that God loved all people so much that He gave up His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross, taking the blame for our sins so we could have new life with Him. (John 3:16) I clung to His promises and my life has never been hopeless or empty again. He made my life “…a new creation…the old things passed away...”(2 Cor. 5:17) Now, blessed with a family of my own, I look forward to holidays and birthdays and we enjoy making our own traditions. Not extravagant, our focus is on modeling God’s love and just having great fun together. We laugh and play and I know our kids have great memories and enjoy the togetherness of family.
Family traditions can serve as vehicles to strengthen bonds and promote healing in areas of brokenness. They help sustain unity in good times and bad. Like a thread running through generations, they can knit families together with a sense of history, place, brotherhood, and continuity. They can be a catalyst for Christian growth when centered on charity and thankfulness. For the “untraditionalist” wishing to take their family in a new direction there are books, websites, and internet blogs that can help. Type “Christian family traditions” into a search engine and get ready to discover great possibilities!