Building Memories   3 comments

When Lauren went away to college, when we cut down the Christmas tree became an annual dance.  Now that she's home, having her niece be a part of the tradition was very important!

When Lauren went away to college, scheduling our Christmas tree expedition became an annual dance with every family member’s calendar. Now that she’s home, the family’s schedule is much easier — which meant getting Lauren’s new niece to the Christmas Tree farm was very important this year!

The tiniest things can become traditions.  And with children, those tiniest things are supremely important.

Anything can be a tradition!  Anything.  Holidays seems to bring them out for everyone, but really anything can become a tradition:

  • When we drove 32 miles to St Joseph (which was a big deal in my small world growing up), we usually stopped at the Dairy Queen in Savannah for a treat.  Nobody makes banana splits like those anymore!
  • When Velda and I were dating, we had a booth that we had to sit at when we went to our favorite bar restaurant, The Heidelberg.  It happened to be booth # 13 … one of many 13s that followed us through our courtship … until we were married on May 13.
  • Christmas mornings were a time of wonder for our young family.  The Christmas tree was very lonely in our living room … until Christmas Eve night, when Santa delivered all of the presents after the kids went to bed!  Bedtime was negotiated fiercely every year … and the time kids could venture downstairs Christmas morning was also negotiated!

Why are traditions so important?

Traditions are comforting, like a chair that is just right for you.  We like repetition, and it can make us feel very good when we know what’s coming.  The anticipation of familiarity is very satisfying.  We want things to be just like we remember them.  We want to control our environment so that we can make it predictable.

Traditions teach values. One of my favorite traditions in Scouting is to carry ashes from campfire to campfire … symbolically uniting that night’s campfire with every campfire that had preceded it since the tradition began.  Scouting campfires are important … and here’s a ceremony I used that helped make sure that the Scouts and Scouters understood that importance:

Legend has it that Baden-Powell would always take a small amount of ashes from a ceremonial campfire  and then spread these ashes into the next campfire.  The main purpose of these ashes is to share with you the memories of past campfires and to bring all Scouts and Scouters together in the world brotherhood of Scouting.

The ashes I spread into this campfire carry memories of past campfires dating back to Brownsea Island in July of 1907, the first Boy Scout camp.  They have been carried around the world to almost 400 Scouting campfires in many countries where Scouting fellowship has been shared.  The ashes came to me in 1996 at Camp Thunderbird near Seattle, and first came to Pack 575 at Hart Park in September of 1996.  I will now add these ashes to this campfire. Lord Baden-Powell said:

 “We carry our friendships with us in these ashes from other campfires with comrades in other lands. May the joining of the past fires with the leaping flames of this campfire, symbolize once more the unbroken chain that binds Scouts and guides all nations together.  With greetings from our brothers and sisters around the world, I add these ashes, and the fellowship therein, to our campfire.”

Every time I used that ceremony, it was an emotional, memorable moment.  Traditions work.

People who share in a tradition are connected.  There’s a reason that families use Grandma’s silver at holiday meals.  There’s a reason that going out to dinner when a family member has a birthday is important.  Those memories tie us together.  Sharing life’s memories together fills us with warmth and happiness.

Build some memories with your family, extended family and friends.  It could be going for a walk on Saturday mornings, the family lunch after church on Sunday, or sharing opening day of baseball season with your buddy.  It could be anything.

And it will be a treasured memory.

One tradition I've seen repeated at several nursing school graduations is the lighting of candles to commemorate the sharing of knowledge.  Here, for the Antelope Valley College graduates, December 2012.

One tradition I’ve seen repeated at several nursing school graduations is the lighting of candles to commemorate the sharing of knowledge. Here, shared by the Antelope Valley College nurse graduates, December 2012. My favorite part of this picture is the glow of the various cellphone and camera screens from the audience at the bottom of the pic!


The Interculturalist

Heart of the Matter

3 responses to “Building Memories

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  1. I see you mentioned St. Joseph, then seen DQ in must be talking about Missouri? I lived in St. Joseph, Missouri for 3 years, graduating at Lafayette High School in 1997.

    • Absolutely! I grew up on a farm near Graham, MO. Loved Savannah’s DQ – my father always said they were much better than the others in the area! I still have family in Missouri, but moved to the LA area for grad school. I’ll always be a Tiger, though … and eagerly look forward to Mizzou playing UCLA basketball this month!

      • Oh wow! I probably knew of Graham, MO when I was living there, but it was a short three years and I haven’t been back. I find it fascinating though, when someone mentions a place and I say, “I lived there or I’ve been there. Lol!” Small world we live in.

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