Memories and Tradition

This weekend, my family will gather to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Earlier this week, I pulled out the little cookbook, the one nearly as old as she is, with that pumpkin cupcake recipe that has come to mark her special day. The book fell open to that page. Stains from other years mark decades of use.

I thought of times I had made these cupcakes for school parties, church events, and these family gatherings.

I tweaked the recipe to include butter instead of margarine and with chocolate chips to make it my own. When they’re done, I coat them in store-bought icing with added red and yellow food coloring to make orange.

The children and some of the grandchildren are convinced that the color somehow adds flavor. “It tastes different,” they say.

Perhaps it is the savor of tradition and memory.

A series of autumns, seasons of life spinning past. Snapshots march through my mind of babies in high chairs, then booster seats. Time waltzed us through their teen years, their weddings, the births of their own young ones. And we wait with one of the young ones waiting for his second child.

Now there are new birthdays with new recipes and new traditions.

I think of my children’s laughter, how it is the most resplendent music to a parent’s ear, and the passage of time does not diminish its beauty. How it doesn’t matter how old your children are, you still feel joy when they laugh.

We get a picture of heaven as we sit around a table with our children, with their children (and their children) nearby. We listen to the laughter, the chatter, even the arguments. There are vignettes that exist in our memories, our conversations, those snapshots of our minds unfolding as we march toward eternity.

It occurs to me that God feels joy when His children laugh. When my friends and I were young mothers, older, wiser ones would warn us that as our children grew, so would their troubles. As we feel joy when they laugh, we also hurt when they hurt. And so does God. When we hurt, He hurts for us.

I cannot make heaven on earth because earth’s purpose is to prepare me for heaven.

The next season coming up is the one when we remember that God came to dwell with us. He was a stranger to earth. So are we.

In his book Heaven, Randy Alcorn quotes C.S. Lewis; “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same” (456).

We are not there yet, but for His followers, there is joy in laughter and redemption of all our pains.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Holiday Anticipation

“The way my family anticipates Christmas feels different from the way we look forward to almost anything else. For other things, we’re excited about learning, seeing, or exploring something new. But Christmas is different. We look forward to it all year. We count down the days, just to experience it nearly exactly as we always have.” Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Journal, Issue 9~

Every year, the stores seem to decorate earlier. Santa arrives earlier. Online shopping decreased the hustle and bustle–at least in public. The early decorating seems to be a quest to set the mood–to draw buyers into stores.

Last year, the stores in my locale weren’t crowded. I shopped in the traditional way–but without the crowds. 

It was great. But I wonder if online shoppers felt like they were missing something–if something about their Christmas experience seemed incomplete. 

Last week–one week before Thanksgiving–we received 10.6 inches of snow. 

Thursday and Friday were snow days–closed schools with some businesses following suit. People stayed home and stayed inside except to clear their sidewalks and driveways. Those who had to went to work on Friday. But anyone who could did not venture far. 

Saturday was different. On Saturday, the snow had done its magic and there I was digging out Christmas music and lighting a balsalm fir candle. 

Then I went shopping (after extinguishing the candle) to discover the crowds had returned. Lines weren’t too bad. But traffic was heav.

The snow (and perhaps some early retail discounts) called us back to a time when shopping was an adventure requiring movement, planning, navigation, and socialization.  

The forecaster I married assures me the snow will be gone before Thursday and may not return for Christmas.

No matter. The weather has evoked memories of white days and glowing trees in years past. We are drawn to the season of peace–a respite from the world of bitter politics and bad news.

We anticipate, count the days, and wait. We work, buying, wrapping, cleaning, decorating, cooking, and baking to relive and recreate a day to carry with us through the year.

Our lives are threads tying generations together. Holidays are exclamations.

Proclaim God’s goodness. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Welcome Fall

It’s finally come. The crisp cool air. We’ve had only our second wood stove fire. Warming our house instead of trying to cool it down.

The sun rises and sets earlier. I find that comforting. It draws me home to comfort and good foods. To hot tea and a peaceful solitude that feeds my spirit.

But this is also the time many family traditions kick in.

This week, my preparations continue for trick-or-treat night proceed in earnest. I plan to purchase several bags of locally made candy. 

For years, I’d forgotten that we have a candy factory right here. And buying candy there supports local jobs.

But I’ve already bought some candy from the grocery store this year. Just a couple of bags. Just for the grandkids. I found glow-in-the-dark packaging wrapped around chocolate. That’s perfect for the new tradition begun last year–the trick-or-treat scavenger hunt–conducted in the dark hallways of my house.

Last year, it was glowing paint on wiry spiders that I found on clearance. This year, the grandchildren can go hunting for treats.

Welcome fall. Welcome to this time for traditions and memories. And for new ways to make new traditions, new memories. What are some of yours?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”