It’s the year-end holidays and the kids’ classes (and exams) are done for the year. In fact, the PSLE results will be out this Friday. Many parents are either busy ferrying their kids for a myriad of holiday activities, bringing the family overseas or are searching for enriching and fun activities to occupy the kids. We are no different.
In the midst of filling up the holiday schedules with things to do, let us remember that there is some need for consistency, in particular traditions that make for that meaningful ‘uniquely yours’ family moment as the year draws to a close and another opens.
Most families can attest that traditions do make for long-lasting memorable family moments. As a child, I remember the annual Chinese New Year 3-hour long homecoming road trip to my late grandparents ‘kampung’. From there, another unique set of CNY traditions with my grandparents would then ensue where all the grandchildren would either perform on a musical instrument or show our Grandpa our report cards before receiving our red packets. I also remember fondly how my businessman Dad would always surprise us with postcards sent from the planes he was travelling overseas and the annual ‘donation drive’ my Mum would do with us to bless orphans with our toys and books. Ah, while variety gives colour, traditions give meaning.
Traditions are not difficult to start and need not be too ‘high-order’ or ‘high-maintenance’. Like most great things, it can start with a small idea. For the Sims, our Christmas traditions center on our ‘tree’ – ok, to be exact, our 6-feet tall ‘fake’ Christmas tree. It’s no ordinary tree mind you, it’s been with us since we wed (yes, 15 years and counting!) The tree has been ‘travelling’ with us (both literally and figuratively) when we moved from one home to another. In good times, it testifies of God’s provision over the years and in bad times, it reminds us that God sent a Savior (nope, not Santa but Jesus Christ) to give us hope, peace and salvation.
So, one of the year-end traditions in our home is to set up the Christmas tree together with melodic carols playing in the background. The ornaments that adorn the tree each have special significance – they are bought from the different places we’ve travelled: the ‘evil eye’ from Turkey, the miniature hand-painted clogs from Amsterdam, the glass Christmas orbs from Heidelberg, Germany, the handcrafted wooden Snowman & Santa from Taipei, the Mickey & Minnie bells from Disneyland and so on. As we set up the tree, we reminiscence the holiday memories and rekindle our wander lust. With the addition of our daughter, we would involve her in stringing the garlands and hanging her favourite ornaments on the tree. For the last bit, she would wait for Daddy to carry her up to place the North Star at the top before we huddle together, watch it light up and glisten in the night. This year, we are so blessed to have Buddy join in this tradition! A new tradition Angie started last year was to create an Advent Calendar with Dana where we did something different each day to spread the festive cheer in the days leading up to Christmas. This year, we hope to use ‘Truth in the Tinsel‘ to help Dana make meaning of the festivities through Scripture reading, crafts and simple family discussions.
Along with the tree and Advent study would be the singing of hymns and carols on car rides and writing postcards to our loved ones who lived near and far. It is also our family’s tradition to only unwrap the gifts on boxing day (26 Dec, day after Christmas).
As the whirlwind of the year’s activities draws to an end (and the manic Christmas shopping starts), remember to pause and reflect on the year, give thanks, revisit key family values and, if need be – like us, re-establish meaningful family traditions that are truly, uniquely yours for your family to keep.
Have a blessed Yuletide season.