Family traditions are a big contributor to a person’s identity. I do not come from a family with lots of traditions, and neither does my wife, Nancy. We have a couple of very good ones, however, and we really value them. They tell you a lot about us.
The number one big tradition in Nancy’s family is Thanksgiving Day. Nancy’s parents still host the whole gang, usually accompanied by extended family members and friends. They have even transformed their garage into a party room, with porcelain tile, wainscoting, and its own air-conditioning system. I will warn you that your trips back for more food are observed; Nancy and I can provide survival tips upon request. In recent years, the food preparation has passed to our generation, with our brother-in-law doing most of the cooking and me providing the pies. Our kids provide the cleanup.
The best thing about how Nancy’s family celebrates Thanksgiving Day is that the spirit of hospitality, generosity, and thankfulness is there all day, every day, all year long. Her parents have done a wonderful job passing those qualities on to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It is hard to imagine a better legacy.
The most significant tradition for my family is the little dress that my mother made for my baptism while she was pregnant with me. Two and a half years later, my sister was baptized in the same little dress. When my sister had her first son, she had the brilliant idea to have him wear the same dress when he was baptized; and so the tradition was launched. All four of my mom’s grandchildren wore the dress. Our granddaughter was the first of her great-grandchildren to wear the dress, and our nephew recently became the seventh of his generation to do so. (The picture above shows my mom surrounded by her seven great-grandchildren at her 90th birthday celebration.) The baptismal dress is now back in my mother’s possession, because she frets about it when she does not have it close to her.
As Lutherans, we put a lot of weight on baptism. It is more than a tradition. It is more than a symbol. God really does something. He makes a promise to us that we belong to him, and he will not forget us. We hold to the words of Romans 6:4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Baptism has benefits all day, every day. And the new life goes on forever. It is hard to imagine a better legacy than that.
These two traditions—of living with a constant attitude of thankfulness and living out the benefits of baptism—were our parents’ gifts to us, and we pray that each generation will continue to pass them on.
Mark is a “Lutheran from birth” blessed either with a curious mind and a broad range of interests or cursed with a short attention span. He has been blessed with an amazing wife, Nancy, two “above average” children and four awesome grandchildren (acknowledging that there are no other kind). He has a Ph.D. in theoretical solid state physics and works as a software engineer. Highlights of his service at Prince of Peace include leading a small group, involvement with education including teaching high school Sunday school (which his children have since acknowledged was not primarily aimed at embarrassing them) and serving on the Board of Servant Leaders. Over the past few years, the Holy Spirit has lead Mark to healing prayer ministry were he has experienced God’s power in healing and deliverance both personally and in the lives of others. His hobbies include home brewing, growing orchids, horticulture, travel and running.