Tradition

If you are a fan of musicals, I know what song might be going through your head.  (If you have never seen “Fiddler on the Roof”, you can visit the below YouTube link to see the song with subtitles.

You will be surprised, amused and maybe slightly concerned – please just ignore the unnecessary comments underneath.  The whole musical does focus on the importance of tradition, but also points out the even greater importance of choosing family relationships over ritual.  That could be a whole other blog!  Anyway …

Today starts a fun tradition for our family.  March Madness time.  Everyone fills out brackets – even my youngest two (go, Saint Mary’s!)  Then we will spend the next three week-ends watching basketball – lots of it!  I grew up watching the tournament and gradually kept becoming more of a fan.  (During my years of teaching, I actually had a bulletin board posting the brackets and took that opportunity to teach my students about statistics and averages and other fun things!)  This love of good ball has carried over to family, and my 10-year-old will be carrying around each of our brackets, analyzing them and marking who wins and loses.  We also participate in a brackets contest with my cousins, but so far, the only prize is bragging rights (this may change as my kids get older!)  And thanks to Mommy Madness and Anita’s amazing craft skills, my piano top is decked out for the occasion (complete with Hobby Lobby discounted basketball decorations and Anita’s adorable basketball topiaries).

Many of you do not care about basketball, so before I lose you, I had better clarify the point as to why I am posting about this.  For years to come, my children will have warm feelings when it comes to March Madness.  They will recall the time we spent together enjoying hoops.  They will even remember having our spring break then (yes, we do plan our homeschool spring break around the games, although they have had plenty of school earlier this week to be able to take the days off!)  While the basketball does matter to me (at least a little bit), the togetherness matters more.

According to dictionary.com, this is the definition of tradition:

the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice
We all tend to focus on family traditions a lot in the fall around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Our family has also even started practicing some Easter traditions (more on that in a future post).  I think many of our traditions also involve food – ham at Easter, turkey at Thanksgiving and so on.  But beyond those events, I think we can get too busy or tired to think about continuing to pass on our beliefs by practice.  This was not the case in Old Testament times – their calendar schedule revolved around different customs that they would practice annually that would remind them of the faithfulness of God.
While I would be hard pressed to be able to justify our March Madness tradition into a “biblical” occasion, I do feel that passing down spiritual traditions are the most important ones.  My husband and I want to pass down our faith and have our kids make it their own.  That is what really matters to me in the end – the tradition of going to church weekly, daily Bible reading and prayer – all crucial customs.
As our family is gradually moving from the survival days (when our house was filled with toddlers and preschoolers) to the thriving, busy days of having active children, I want to continue to figure out ways to develop my children’s spiritual heritage.  I found a book on my shelf this morning that I hope to read soon because I can tell by briefly perusing the chapters that I want to add some of their faith-filled ideas to my family.  Celebrations of Faith by Randy and Lisa Wilson includes information about how to plan a “legacy tea” and also the concept of passing out a character trophy.   They also talk about Joshua baskets (an idea we have mentioned before at MOPS!)  I know that I will be unable to enact all of their ideas (I do have time and energy constraints), but I know that I am able to take a few of their suggestions on passing down a Christian heritage and implement them as a part of our daily life.
There is another book that has been around for many years on the importance of traditions.  Let’s Make a Memory:  Great Ideas for Building Family Traditions and Togetherness by Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson.  (There is actually one copy available at the library, but the rest of the titles available at the library on the subject of traditions do not seem to have a spiritual focus at all!)   I think I have a copy of that book, but I could not find mine today, so I cannot expound on their ideas at all.  I also own the books, 15 Minute Family Traditions and Memories by Emilie Barnes and Beyond Groundhogs and Gobblers by Cyndy Salzmann.  Both books are good, but they tend to focus on holiday traditions (although Cyndy’s book does cover holidays throughout the year).  Life can be full of drudgery sometimes – I think it is always fun to add celebrations of life in the midst of routine!
Does your family have any traditions beyond the major holiday ones?  If you send them to  firstfreemops@gmail.com, I will include them in a future blog post.  I would rather have ideas that my friends have done, then to go on to Pinterest and feel like a mommy underachiever.  🙂  They could certainly be spiritual traditions, but learning about fun family customs (like my March Madness) would also be inspiring.  Until then …
Psalm 118:21-24 (The Message paraphrase)
Thank you for responding to me;
you’ve truly become my salvation!
The stone the masons discarded as flawed
is now the capstone!
This is God’s work.
We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!
This is the very day God acted—
let’s celebrate and be festive!
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