A close friend recently noted that my family has a lot of traditions. I didn’t think we did, but I guess my wife and I have always tried to build some sense of recurrence and significance to our family activities. For instance, whenever we travel across the state to visit Grammy, we always stop at a little Mexican restaurant about half way through the trip for dinner. Not only does it help to break up the nearly six hour drive, the tradition of making this stop helps to mark milestones in our memories of various trips.
Another tradition we have is during December – we have an advent calendar where each day we have an activity that sets the tone for the season as well as provide opportunities for loads of family memories. Some are from my wife and my own childhood – watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas cartoon, or Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. They were aired on TV when I was a kid; we now watch them on DVD. But either way they are markers of our time together.
This past weekend, we celebrated one of our other holiday traditions. Throughout the year we save all of our spare change and put it in a jar, and the kids save up part of their weekly allowance for “sharing”. Then, on a Saturday morning in December we head out to the grocery store and shop for the local food bank. We team up – my son and I, and my daughter with my wife – and set off on our search to buy enough groceries for a full day’s worth of meals for a family of four. We typically cheat and add in a few extra boxes of this and packages of that along the way, then the kids pick out one ‘treat’ to top it all off. After cashing in our coins and paying for our purchases, we load up the car, travel to the food bank, and drop off all the food. It’s the culmination of a year’s worth of saving and intentional giving. Each time we drop our change in the jar throughout the year, it’s a little reminder of the food we’re going to put on someone’s table.
Of course this is the time of year when need can be most keenly felt – by those who have need, and those whose heart’s may be touched to provide. And it is often more easy to give during this season to the bell ringer on the corner, or to the toy and food drive at your local fire station. But I hope that your giving is not limited to the cold dark days of December, but that you can find a way to make giving a tradition for your own family. How can you build recurrence and significance into your life and create a tradition of giving?
-- David Kinard, PCM