Creating Meaningful Memories and Timeless Traditions by Jody Capehart

Smells have a way of taking us back to a time and place, however far away. The holidays come with a rich memory bank of odors. Pause for a moment and smell the scent of fresh bread baking, a turkey roasting, a holiday candle burning or the pine smell of a Christmas tree that is freshly cut and fragrant.

The holidays are upon us and with them comes the importance of taking time now to reflect upon what is meaningful and what we can to do make meaningful memories. 

What do you remember about what your grandparents and/or extended family did to make the holidays a special time? Hopefully you have some good memories! Or perhaps there is something that you did want from the holiday experience but did not receive? As you find ways to give new memories to your own children, it will heal your own heart of hurts you may have received as a child. It truly is in the giving that we receive.  

Let’s take time this holiday season to create meaningful memories and timeless traditions for our families. You may want to take time to ask Grandma and Grandpa what they did when they were children that made the holidays special. Or perhaps, what they did for their children to make the holidays a meaningful and fun time. These are traditions and build in security and structure for our children in a very fast-paced transient world. 

For example, in our family, our children grew up experiencing two completely different traditions from each set of grandparents. I have 7 siblings and with 20 grandchildren, Christmas was loud and boisterous.  Growing up, my parents didn’t have much money and we always had ‘red’ and ‘green’ soups for Christmas which I later learned were simply tomato and pea soups, but as children we thought it was the best! 

My parents were creative at making $10.00 per child magically become 10 different presents wrapped and under the tree. Later with the 20 grandchildren opening their 200 presents and whooping for joy, the children never guessed when they were young that the gifts didn’t cost much, but they did feel the wealth of love in the gifts. We all walked to
the midnight service in the snow singing at the top of our lungs and then came home for hot chocolate and cookies. It was fun and the children loved going to Grandma and Grandpa’s home for a white Christmas in MinneSNOWta!  

On the other hand, my husband’s family members were all involved in professional ministry. Christmas was a time of sacred reflection on the real meaning of Christmas. It was time of quiet reverence in which we sang Christmas hymns, read the scriptures, and each family was required to perform something spiritual and/or musical.

For gifts, each child received one gift such as a pair of socks. And of course, we were all in church for the services and often most of us were participating in some way as well. 

When our own children were young, they preferred a MinneSNOWta Christmas with my family and all their boisterous cousins. As they got older, they began to see the value in the contrast of the different traditions that provided a rich part of their heritage. 

As our children grew, we developed our own traditions in order to make meaningful memories for our own family.  

Each family should evaluate what they want their children to receive from the holidays. With so many blended families, it becomes harder to establish traditions, but even more imperative to do so for children to feel that something has lasting value.

Be creative as you plan the holidays. Find ways to build meaning in the way that you spend time together, whether in person or long distance. Presents are transient and fade away, but the gift of our time and traditions lives on and hopefully, for many generations. Let’s give more of our presence and spend less on the presents as we seek to make meaningful memories for our families.