My boys love decorating the tree. Now that my oldest is taller than me and can easily reach the top, they're a huge help when it's time to put everything up. I was trying to balance putting up the tree and cooking dinner, so I let them handle a lot of the ornaments this year. I wasn't expecting what I heard:
"Here's Mitzy's ornament." (Our first Yorkie, who died almost three years ago.) "And here's Miley's." (Our two year old Yorkie.)
"Mom, here's the one from when you and Dad got married."
"These were Grandma's rocking horses, right?"
"Can we put up our baby ornaments?"
"Mom, here's more of your vintage Santas. What does vintage mean anyway?"
The significance of their comments didn't strike me until later, as I sat looking at the tree. My boys know the stories.
I have a thing about ornaments. I won't buy them just because they're cute - they have to have a story. There's our Santa on a motorcycle, because I've been promising my husband for years that he'd get one someday. (And he finally did, about two weeks ago.) My ballerina, because I took ballet and learned to dance on pointe (not well, but I did it). The wooden Hershey's ornaments and rocking horses that hung on my mother-in-law's tree, a small piece of my husband's childhood and his parents, who I never got to meet. The boys' first Christmas ornaments. The photo frame with the boys sitting in Santa's lap together for the first time, when our oldest was three and our youngest was just six months old.
Our tree isn't just hung with ornaments - it's hung with memories and stories.
Every family has stories. We have stories of how our family came to be: how we met, how our faith has been passed down from generation to generation. There are stories of our faith: miracles we've witnessed, answered prayers, God's faithfulness. We have family members our children will never know this side of heaven, people whose legacy shouldn't be forgotten. It's our history, and our children need to know it.
Tell your kids your stories. That's part of why I write, journal, and blog. I want to pass something down to my boys, something tangible that my children and grandchildren can see and touch. I want them to read about our family's ups and downs. When God is faithful, when He comes through in an amazing way, I want them to have a record of it.
I love the commands God gives Joshua and the Israelite's in Joshua chapter 4:
Our stories matter to our families and to God. This Christmas, take time to sit down with your children and tell them your stories. Tell them about your family, your faith, and the greatest story of all - the story of God's love.