The Best Use of the Holidays
November 30, 2021
This week I read a Facebook post that said, “Just a reminder, Thanksgiving is not a celebration of the unity between native Americas and the Pilgrims. It’s a sad memorial to the abuse of indigenous peoples and the stealing of their land.” It was another reminder to me of the cynicism and misplaced purposes that are so easy to assume. Despite the many flaws in our history, the first Thanksgiving was to express gratitude for the harvest. In our history it has always been a time to give thanks.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. But there is even more to Thanksgiving and other holidays than that. Before Christmas is here and then the new year, I want to encourage you to think of the opportunity holidays can bring with specific traditions to remind and reinforce specific things with those we love.
We do this in all of life. Here at NewPointe we have what we refer to as All Staff: a monthly time when all of the staff from all campuses come together to encourage, celebrate, and reinforce what we believe and are called to do.
It hit me again this Thanksgiving. My siblings and I are getting older and older. My parents are no longer with us, nor my sister and her husband and my brother-in-law. I wonder to myself who is going to continue the traditions, who is going to ensure that we gather, that we celebrate the goods things that have happened, that we encourage and support one another with the challenges we are facing; that we are trusting God.
Scripture teaches us that God gave His people Israel festivals (You can read about them in the book of Leviticus.) These were given as opportunities to celebrate, encourage, and remind us of God’s faithfulness and blessings. We have holidays that can do this for us.
It has been said over and over (and proven again and again) that all of us are only one generation away from not following God. I felt that weight this Thanksgiving—the weight of responsibility to make sure that what my parents gave us does not end with me, that our family does not drift apart from one another and God.
We have the Fourth of July to remember our independence, the price that was paid for us to have this land. We have Memorial Day and Veterans Day to remind us of those who paid the price of our continual freedom. We have Easter to remind us of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that makes life here and forever possible. We have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to remind us of the gifts that faithful parents are. And of course, we have Thanksgiving and Christmas with their obvious opportunities to remember and remind. On many if not most of these holidays, people gather.
I hope that we don’t miss the opportunity to put an exclamation point on every gathering. On each of these holidays we can leverage the spiritual in a positive, life-giving, and encouraging way.
Christmas is coming up next and soon. Maybe as you think it over, you would like a do-over for Thanksgiving. You gathered, you had great food, you watched some football. It was fun and delicious but wasn’t intentional, and you didn’t leverage the opportunity to reinforce to your family the importance of a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and the vital legacy of family relationships.
I want to encourage you not to miss during this next opportunity. Christmas traditions, new ones you decide to create or ones that are long held, are the best handles for making sure the values are clearly transmitted. Family traditions have benefits extending far beyond what we eat for dinner (although that IS one of my favorite things too! 😊)
Family traditions create constancy. Life is always challenging, and the holidays up the chaos. The traditions and times together we establish are a solid foundation for stability in these weeks.
Family traditions create continuity. Routine is critical to setting up the valuable commitments that transmit values. Knowing what happens next is so significant to allowing peace to thrive. Once family traditions are established, we get to spend less time planning and more time enjoying.
Family traditions create comfort. There is comfort in knowing where the feeling of home and belonging can be found. The comfort lasts for years to come. I am still enjoying the comfort of things begun decades ago in my parents’ home. As your children take the traditions into their own families they create, the family becomes a unit of faith, comfort, and joy.
Family traditions create connections. As our kids get older, they get busier. These foundational family moments provide a consistent point of connection. They come back to “home” for something they can get nowhere else in their crowded schedules.
Family traditions can keep Christ at the center of it all. You want your children’s experiences and memories to always highlight the Jesus you want them to honor, love, and serve. The time to ensure that is now.
Run through your holidays mentally, starting with Christmas. What are you doing that is intentional and works well? What could be tweaked or added to make sure you are leveraging the very best possible from the holidays? God will bless your every effort.