Last night the grandkids gathered at Mom & Dad’s for the annual tradition of making shoeboxes for “Operation Christmas Child”, where they put together shoe boxes full of toys and other items to be sent to children of less privilege, all over the world. It’s a meaningful tradition, coordinated by GrandMaMa, that brings awareness to just how privileged we are and opens their eyes to the needs of others in a time of year when it’s easy to focus on wanting more. When they see the shopping list of items, that includes things like a comb, fingernail, clipper and a playground ball, combined with the videos of the pure joy on the faces of the receiving children, it quite a reality check. Operation Christmas Child is an intentional tradition, I’m so grateful GrandMaMa started.
Sometimes, we begin unintentional traditions as well.
As I arrived to pick up the boys last night after their shoe box making, GrandMaMa held a finger to her lips saying, “We had a great time, but we lost a few of the boys.” with a smile, a wink and a nudge toward the pantry. I played along, asking questions and walking toward the pantry. As I reached the door, ignoring the rumble of laughter I could hear coming from inside, I said, “I will help you look for them, but I think I’ll grab a quick snack first.” Flinging open the pantry door, I was met with ruckus laughter and an echo of “SURPRISE!” The boys had all been hiding in the pantry, for who knows how long, while I finished my phone call in the driveway.
This might seem like a normal “kid” thing to do, and it is, but there’s an element of tradition at play as well.
When they emerged, out of breath with laughter, they recounted the story I’d told them of how my sister Heather and I hid in our dark hotel room in NYC from Mom, Kim and Michelle. We’d arrived back to the room before them and thought it would be funny to turn off the lights and “surprise” them. We hid behind the beds waiting in the darkness, giggling and sweating, with tears of laughter streaming down our cheeks, until finally they returned. We jumped out with shouting “SURPRISE”, like a couple of little school girls. The boys took a cue from us by repeating our shenanigans.
That is how traditions are born.
Sometimes it’s on purpose, the way Mom coordinates the tradition of the Christmas shoe boxes, and sometimes it’s based on the stories we tell. But almost always it’s directly related to the things we actually do. The people around us will do what we do. They will engage in the ways we model for them.
That goes for adults and kids alike.
Want a more peaceful, harmonious and grateful Thanksgiving?
Set that table.
And begin before the “guests” arrive. Start with the way you engage the family that lives with you all the time. (Believe me, I’m looking in the mirror on this one!)
That’s, how thankful traditions are born.
to more love,