Traditions: from one generation to the next

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6.6-7 NIV

Being human means that we need events, experiences, and traditions to remind us of what is really important.

My family, both immediate and extended, has kept family traditions all year long, especially during the holidays. There are a few Christmas traditions in my family. Every year, we attend 1-4 holiday parties, each one incredibly different, and that just within my immediate and extended family (not including work, church, etc.)! 

Christmases past consisted of gift-giving and sweet treats. We normally didn’t have a meal and everyone brought sweet treats like Christmas cookies, puppy chow , deviled eggs, and – my personal favorite – Cheelognas.

It’s pronounced like bologna and consists of a combination of Cheese Whiz, onion and, you guessed it, bologna. (“Cheese” + “Bologna” = “Cheelogna” …get it?)That mixture is spread on bread – any kind – and popped in the oven for 2-5 minutes on a high broil, just until the edges turn brown. The flavor is even more exceptional if they’re a little burnt.

And it’s incredibly delicious.

Fattening too, I suppose. But hey, I live in Minnesota. It’s cold here and a little extra cushion keeps you warm. Then again, I limit my intake, good as those little treats are.

A family tradition

“Traditions are a part of life. They set standards of behavior. They impart family values. They help knit together family members into a tapestry that gives each one a sense of belonging and acceptance…not limited to a particular season…” – Richard Ivy, Memories of Dad

It’s true.

Those family traditions are deeply rooted in our family’s history. The Cheelogna recipe has been handed down a few generations now and probably didn’t start with Cheese Whiz as a staple ingredient since the product made its national debut in 1953.  

And it’s over those sandwiches that we’ve shared some of our best conversations. My uncle, who is in the Air Force, would talk about his travels and life experiences. Another would share stories of his Harley-adventures. My aunts, grandmother and mother would share what God was doing in their lives, both in the year past and currently, and I would sit and listen with awe and wonder at how active God still is, here and now.

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings [or traditions] we passed on to you… 2 Thessalonians 2.15a

And it’s those same traditions I hope to pass on to others, whether I have a family of my own one day or not. I can still share the joy of Christ with everyone who crosses my path.

How about you? What traditions are part of your family’s history? Do they reflect the life of Christ here and now? If not, how can you start today to include him? What would that look like?

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