by Rebecca Talley
Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, we pull out all of our Christmas decorations, put on the Christmas tunes, and decorate our house for Christmas.
We used to trudge through the forest searching for that one, perfect tree—you know, with the light shining down from heaven and a chorus of angels singing. On two different occasions, I had newborns that I carried in a front pack as we hiked through the trees seeking the one that would have the honor of adorning our living room for the season. Year after year, we cut down our own tree despite the snow, rain, or complaints from small children that their legs were going to fall off.
Searching for the tree was usually so exhausting and took so long that some years we had to postpone the decorating until the next day. And, too many times to count, we reminded ourselves during the drive home that we had a tree on top of the vehicle and we should not drive into the garage. Yet, time after time, we’d forget and drive into the garage, wedging the tree between the top of the vehicle and the garage door. That became one of our traditions.
Unfortunately, a beetle infestation combined with several years of drought killed the majority of pinion trees in our area. We then decided we’d—gasp—buy an artificial tree in an effort to leave the live trees intact and allow for new tree growth. We may go back to cutting down our own tree when the forest has had a chance to regenerate itself, but by then it may be too difficult to maneuver our wheelchairs and canes through the forest.
Our family tradition of decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving has become an important part of our family’s memories and the kids look forward to it each year. My son, who recently returned home from his mission, has nicknamed the day, “The Talley Family Christmas Halapalooza.” He’s said many times how much he missed this tradition while he was away in Italy.
Traditions are an important part of our families. Kids look forward to traditions and see them as a constant in their ever-changing lives. No matter what, my kids know that instead of shopping on Black Friday, we’ll be putting up the Christmas tree, sipping hot chocolate, and watching, “Christmas Vacation.”
Of course, other traditions are even more important. Family scripture study, family home evening, and family prayer are all traditions that will not only strengthen our family here and now, they will bind us together for eternity.
When we were first married, we instituted a tradition of reading our scriptures together, reciting an Article of Faith, singing a hymn (usually a Primary song), and then saying our family prayer. It’s become such an integral part of our family that our kids won’t allow us to skip any part of it, even if it means we’re doing it at midnight.
Traditions that are grounded in the gospel will unite our families and draw us closer together. It’s never too late to start a family tradition.