Family Traditions

Ending the old year with its holiday celebrations and starting a new year with its official and unofficial New Year’s resolutions has got me to thinking about family traditions in general. I’ll throw out to you my three most favorite traditions in our family, and my three least favorite.

Perhaps you could then post a most favorite or least favorite of yours in the comments section.

My three most favorite family traditions:

  • Christmas meal with my whole family (my parents, brother, sister, and kids). This is one that’s so easily taken for granted and one doesn’t realize how precious it is till it’s well in hindsight. How do I know? Because I can still remember, as a kid, having this tradition with my parents’ parents . . . who are now all gone.
  • Father-son year-long Proverbs study at age 13. My youngest son is now 17, my oldest 26; we all still remember the “proverbs study.” My middle son protested the most about it at the time (and OK, maybe I didn’t quite take the study down to the junior high level . . . ), but he’s the one who now refers to it most often.
  • Two weeks with parents and kids on the North Carolina beach, every other year. (We couldn’t afford to do it every year anyway, and every other year is the right timing — keeps the “tradition” from degenerating into “routine,” and also preserves the line between “fun” and “aggravating” to be together for a week or two.)

My three least favorite family traditions:

  • Taking down the decorations and putting out the tree (or putting it back, if we use the artificial tree). Beside the drudgery of the job, it’s a poignant reminder that “the season” you looked forward to for a year is over. Especially when we’re putting out the live tree, count on my wife to say at least three times, “How on earth did we ever make it a tradition to bring a tree into the house?” (Of course, she used to say the same thing about the dog. . . ) By the way, for a humorous take on these traditions, see Jim Gaffigan’s routine, here.
  • Christmas “snack time” and hors d’oeuvres. The meal’s not ready, so this is right at the tail end of the hectic and frantic aspect of that preparation; and in “our tradition,” this is the time when we’re usually waiting for late family members — with the aggravation of that growing with each passing minute they don’t show. Fortunately, all this is forgotten and forgiven by meal time, though (see “favorite tradition,” above).
  • Spring cleaning (which for us is usually actually “summer cleaning”). This one’s growing on me, though — especially the closer we actually get to doing it together as a family. . .

For those looking for a scriptural underpinning for this blog (and there’s usually ONE blog reader who dings me if I go a whole blog without citing a Bible passage): Proverbs 17:6 is at least in the neighborhood. . .

Now, how about you? What are your favorite or least favorite family traditions? And what do you see and learn from your list (or mine)?

About the Author

Todd Mangum

Dr. R. Todd Mangum

Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical. He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention. Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and co-author (with Dr. Paul Pettit of the Howard Hendricks Leadership Center in Dallas, TX) of the just-released book, Blessed are the Balanced: Following Jesus into the Academy (Kregel), and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons.

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