Traditions are tightly woven into fabric of most families, as they celebrate Christmas. My parents started one when I was younger out of necessity, not heritage! But, it has been one the biggest blessing that I received from my parents and it reverberate throughout my life today!
My Mom and dad are the most gracious people I know! They did not have a lot of money when I was young, but that never stopped them from giving to us or anyone else! One year in particular my parent made both me and my sister a doll house. It wasn’t just any doll house, to me it was the castle of all doll houses! My dad built the house out of plywood, while my Mom made all of the furniture for it. She would cut and create using ordinary household items that usually would be discarded. Things like, empty egg cartons, plastic or cardboard containers and empty paper towel rolls. Then she would embellish them. The little beds would have bed spreads and pillows she made out of material scraps. We didn’t know what the furniture was made out of because she created elaborate coverings out of contact paper, foil and anything else that worked. Then they decorated both the inside and the outside too! They gave it wall paper, floor covering and a paint job that would make Barbie and Ken envious! It was something to behold, especially to me! I will never forget that! I couldn’t believe what I had….it was the best gift ever!
A few years later when we moved to Colorado, my parents had some of the worst financial times of their lives….but they still gave! They always did something for someone else. One year they started making doll houses to give out to little girls who would not have a Christmas! It was a fun family experience. My parents always did the majority of the work while my brother and sister and I would lend a hand, too. These little houses were such masterpieces, and they found new ways every year of doing something.
It was the neatest thing when they were all done. For me though, it was always a let down. My parents weren’t the ones who delivered them, it was a friend of theirs. He was a principal that knew many families and he would seek out the best recipients for the houses! Mom and dad would sometimes receive pictures in the mail with the little girls sitting in front of, or playing with the house. My Mom had a special section in the picture album just for these photos. I always wanted more….I wasn’t sure what, but one Christmas I learned what I was missing!!!
One year I was psyched, this guy wasn’t able to deliver the last one, so he gave the address to my parents! Whew, I was in the car and ready to go! We pulled up to the place and brought it in, but it was like they didn’t know we were coming. The reaction was not what I had expected. As we got back into the car, I could not stand it and said, ” Gee, the guy didn’t seem too grateful…what was his problem anyway!”. It was silent and what my Mom said next….. I will never forget….she said, “Cathie, did you see the look on that little girls face?!”
It hit me like a ton of bricks! I had gone there with a different agenda and purpose than my parents had! I had gone to “receive” something, my parents had gone to “give”. I learned a very valuable lesson that night as my parents carried out…. “their tradition” of giving in a way that honors and pleases God!
Last year I was able put this same tradition into practice when all three of my girls filled a shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse! They were very excited to shop and gather all of the items to put into their box. After they had prepared the box they realized that they weren’t going to be able to deliver it, or see the children that would receive it! So we had the opportunity to talk about giving, and what that truly means! I reassured them that God knew and already had someone picked out to receive their box.
Wow, what a tradition that my parents taught me, to give with a joyful heart…. not expecting to receive anything in return! Just like Christ, His sacrifice on the cross….we can never match or repay it…only accept it!!
The Originator of “Giving!” This is something that I want to be more than a tradition or heritage, I want it to be legacy in our home!
I JOHN 3:11-24
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