A mother was introducing her teenage daughter to the family’s tradition of preparing the Christmas ham. The first thing the mother did was cut off two inches from one end of the ham and set it aside. When the teenager asked why she did this, the mother replied, “That’s how I was taught.” Not satisfied, the teenager called her mother’s mother and asked the same question. The response was the same, “That’s how I was taught.” Still unsatisfied, the teenager waited until the family went to the nursing home on Christmas day to visit her mother’s grandmother. She asked the same question and her great-grandmother replied, “Because your great-grandfather would always buy a ham that was too big for my pan and I’d have to cut off a couple of inches to make it fit.”
Family traditions serve as continuing memorials to significant events in our families’ lives. When we lose the significance of our traditions or forget the event which they memorialize, our traditions become empty and unfulfilling celebrations.
Questions to Think On
- What are some traditions you consider unique to your family? Your congregation? What is the history behind these “continuing memorials”?
- How well do you know the history of your family? How far back in your family tree can you detail from memory?
- How well do you know the history of your congregation? Our denomination?
- Do you think it is important to be good stewards of history? Why or why not?
How Do I Act?
- Study A People Called Cumberland Presbyterian available from the Cumberland Presbyterian Resources.
- Begin a new tradition in your congregation to commemorate a significant event, or maybe revitalize an old tradition which has been lost over the years.
- Compile a comprehensive history of your congregation. Use print, audio, and video recordings, and photographs. Sell copies at church as a fund-raiser. Send one copy to the denominational Historical Foundation at 8207 Traditional Place, Cordova, TN 38016. Enter your work in the annual contest sponsored by the Historical Foundation. If such a history has already been compiled, update it, and send it.