If you know me well, you know I like old things. When I say old things, I do not necessarily mean unique and valuable antiques. Actually, I am particularly fond of everyday items, especially those with a memorable story to accompany them. For instance, in my kitchen hangs a long shelf made of a thick lumber from an old barn. Displayed on the shelf are many items like antique blue mason jars, a broken rolling pin, a chipped wooden spoon, and a vintage cream and sugar set. Each item has little to no monetary value, but each piece is from a kitchen of someone I love dearly.
Last Christmas season I added a special touch to my dining room corner. Much to Josh’s excitement, I crammed a second Christmas tree into our rather small farm house and adorned it with old, colorful Christmas ornaments from my Grandma Welgraven’s basement. I have many memories of helping my grandparents decorate their tree as a little girl, but at the time, I recall thinking they needed to update their chipped and fading ornaments. I guess I didn’t appreciate the beautiful old-fashioned treasures until the delicate decorations were discovered while clearing a shelf in Grandma’s basement last summer. The moment I saw them, I knew I wanted to display them as a reminder of two people whom I love very much. My “Granny Tree” was complete when I hung a dozen delicate snowflakes my Grandma Stoel carefully crocheted many years ago. For most who view my tree, it’s simply a tree full of old things; to me it’s a tree full of rich memories, and a glimpse of where and who I come from.
I’m sure the last thing any of my loved ones thought they would pass on was an old, chipped wooden spoon, or a tarnished Christmas ornament, but I know there was one thing they were intentional about passing to the next generation. It was the love they had for their Heavenly Father.
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
While the many little treasures I have accumulated in my home remind me of my loved ones, the little trinkets will never compare to the gift they gave me “along the road” of life. My family did their very best to impress the command “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5) on my life. While we did not literally tie symbols on our hands or place them on our foreheads, they were certain to make God a part of my life each day. It is my prayer that I too may pass on more than small knick-knacks from my life and be remembered for sharing the love of my Lord and Savior with my children and their children after them.
This year, as we enjoy the many rich customs of the Christmas season, may it not be said of us that we pass on empty traditions. Rather, may it be so of each of us that we teach our children and grandchildren the faithfulness, promises, and love of their Heavenly Father at work in their life each and every day.