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Saturday, December 17, 2016

How important are traditions, really?

Christmas lunch 2015
Spencer and Chloe often tease us that our Christmas tradition is to do something different ever Christmas.  Of course I am quick to defend our age old traditions of  having Chinese food on Christmas eve, apple turnovers on Christmas morning, turkey with Diane Maxwell’s potatoes Romanoff for dinner and of course the same homemade Christmas cookies ever year. 

I will admit that when we moved to the US we were no longer able to buy Pillsbury turnovers, so that tradition was forced to change into Ian’s (now famous) Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries and whip cream.  There is no way that the kids could complain about that upgrade in tradition, right?

Having Chinese food on Christmas Eve was a tradition dating back to my childhood.  It all started because there was only one restaurant where I grew up in Northern Ontario and it was a Chinese food restaurant called “The Shamrock”.  My mom wanted a quick easy meal at after the pharmacy closed on Christmas Eve before we made the 400-mile drive to my cousins’ house in Southern Ontario. The Chinese food in Swaziland is really not great, so last year our kids suggested that we change the tradition to include their favorite steak dinner, complete with baked potato and Greek salad, rather than Chinese food.  That was an easy sell for Ian and me.

While the traditions of turkey, potatoes and Christmas cookies have not changed, we have jointly agreed to include making pancakes, bacon and fruit salad for all our big kids and all of the Children’s Campus staff (180+ this year).   I believe that this new tradition has become the highlight of Christmas day for everyone in our family. And this year we welcome Spencer’s girlfriend, Jane, to join us in the kitchen, so again, even that new tradition has changed (and gotten better!).

Sometimes it is very easy for us to get caught up in having “the perfect Christmas” or holiday for our family. Sticking rigidly to traditions can not only cause unnecessary stress, but also prevent you from new blessings, new freedom and a joy that cannot be explained, but only experienced. 

While you prepare for your family Christmas celebration, or Hanukah, or whatever ever other festivity that you may be getting ready for, please consider being flexible this year, consider changing it up a bit and don’t forget that it’s the people who are in your “traditional plans” that really matter, not the decorations, or ingredients.

Live from Cape Town, South Africa … maybe enjoying a new tradition?


PS – In baby news – this past week baby Surprise was reunited with her mother after being with us for several months.  Shortly thereafter, a 6-month-old baby boy (Gideon) and yesterday an 8-week-old baby girl (Margaret) joined our family, brining us to 144 children.  Please pray for both of these babies as they arrived severely malnourished.  Margaret’s mother bled to death during childbirth and she has only been fed thin maize porridge, by her Grandmother, since birth. She currently weighs 2.6 KG (5.7 pounds).  

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