Tradition – a way of thinking, behaving or doing that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time. (Websters)
The past three months have been filled with ups and downs, as in most people's lives. My husband had the heart attack written about before, one of my sisters is struggling in her marriage, another fell through her ceiling and broke five ribs and punctured a lung, my brother got and infection in his bone and had to have a bone graft, my momma went blind in one eye and cannot see well out of the other, my sister-in-law came down with pneumonia, my then pregnant daughter-in-law's blood pressure sky rocketed and she had to be placed on bed rest (baby boy is here and they are both safe now) and me? I came down with bronchitis and just as I was getting well, was sneezed on and coughed in the face by a lovely little boy (whom I love dearly) in my Sunday School class. I then came down with a worse case and ended up going through three different antibiotics all tolled, prednisone, cough medicine and a second inhaler, but am well now.
My eye doctor told me my blood pressure was up a bit. I explained all this and she smiled and said, “Okay, you have a good reason.”
During times like these we can either run to the world for comfort in the form of alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, etc, OR we can run into God's arms and not only be comforted, but receive healing in ways we never even imagined. I can only speak for myself here, but yes, I received physical healing, but more than that, I was reminded of the importance of tradition, which gave me back all the joy that comes with the Christmas season. I had lost some of it out of weariness.
When I am sick with a bout of strep, I sleep the first day of medicine and after that I am pretty good to go. That goes for virtually any illness that needs antibiotics, that is except for bronchitis and/or pneumonia.
Bronchial/lung infections wipe me out mentally and physically, I suppose because I am not getting enough oxygen to my brain. I may be awake, but I am not really totally alert and may have to be told something two or three times before I really grasp what is being said. However, this time I had been sick for two weeks and had just received my last prescription of medicine. I was still so tired that I wanted to just lie in bed with my eyes closed. I didn't really sleep (though I dozed here and there) but simply did not want to have to move. My five year old grandson came to spend the day with me as usual on a Monday...the Monday AFTER Thanksgiving. On this Monday I would usually have my house completely decorated, inside and out, for Christmas. I had put up the tree in the livingroom and placed a speckling of decorations around the house, but that was it. I simply had no energy to do more. It had taken an entire day to put up a prelit tree, and even then I only used about a fourth of the ornaments I usually do. My grandson ran into the school room and came back with a sad expression on his face. He quietly asked (he knew I was tired), “Gramma, why isn't the tree up in the school room?” We have a little four foot tree I have put up for each of the children as they have gone through preschool with me. The all important train goes around this tree. I explained that I just didn't have the energy to do it this year. He put his little hands in the air, palms facing me in assurance that what he was about to say was an “only if..” scenario and said, “Maybe, if you are feeling better tomorrow and I get all my school work done really fast, we can put the tree up together.”
You know in the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas the Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day?
I think mine grew at least four sizes. I looked in that little face and at those reassuring hands, sat up and smiled, hugged him and said, “Yes, if I am feeling better tomorrow, we WILL put up that tree.” The next morning that tree went up, as did the train. I think I received more physical healing from that experience than all the meds put together!!
Traditions are important. They should not be all consuming, by any means, but their importance cannot be denied. They give a sense of security that all is as it should be and will continue to be so. As Jesus' representative here on earth, I want my children, grandchildren and any future progeny to know that there is security in this world and I want them to know its Source. One way I can convey this to them is through family traditions.
Our fourteen year old grandson asked me another tradition question about three weeks ago. He knew I was feeling horrid, so he privately asked (I am sure so his younger siblings wouldn't hear and begin asking as well), “Gramma, are you going to make us something this year, or have you given up on that?” See, it has been a tradition of mine to make a little something for every grandchild at Christmas for all these fourteen years now. It has ranged from pajamas, to pillows, to stuffed toys and dolls. I secretly had given up. But as he asked the question, a determination built inside me as well as an idea. I responded with, “I am planning on making you each something, but you will probably all receive the same thing this year.” He nodded and we hugged each other. Guess what? I have a homemade gift for all eight of them wrapped and under the tree as of 9:45 pm last night.
Yes, traditions bring feelings of security, but they also fill us with a sense of acceptance and being loved and I do love my family!! As I think on these things I realize with a sense of awe just how dependable our God really is.
My brother-in-law gave us three angel ornaments with Faith, Hope and Love written on them. They brought to mind a conversation I had had with a Christian sister who said she had no special gifts of the Spirit. I told her that was nonsense, because she is filled with the love of God and is always looking for a way to express that love to others. I reminded her that God's word tells us that three things will always remain: Hope, Faith and Love and that the greatest of these is Love. (I Corinthians 13:13) Why? Because God is Love!! (I John 4:8)
I pray I am able to continue these simple traditions for my family for many years to come. I want them to remember that each gift I make is a part of me and is especially for them. I want to transfer to them the tremendous love God has placed in my heart for them into these gifts so that it can become manifest in their personal lives on a permanent level. This way, no matter what happens to me in this life, they will be able to look at and/or remember the things I have personally made for them and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are and always will be loved and that that love comes from a deep and personal relationship with almighty God, who desperately loves them as well. Oh that they might each come to experience His love and forgiveness in their own lives on that same personal level that brings eternal life with Jesus. In this way, our family tradition of love can continue for all eternity!!
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.....13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13 NIV