While my kids have great grandparents, and my wife remembers some of hers from when she was little, I never knew any of mine. In fact, not only had I never met them but I really know very little about them. Sadly, I couldn’t have even told you their names. Within three generations, my great grandparents had disappeared from their great grandson’s mind.
How many generations would it take for me to disappear from my descendants’ memory? Unless I do something like broker a lasting peace in the Middle East, discover a theory of everything, or solve a Rubik’s cube in less than 7 seconds, I’ll be lucky if my great grandchildren know my name. I don’t think here’s anything really wrong with this, it’s just how it is.
How much would have my great grandfather (or either of my grandfathers since they died when I was relatively young) wanted to tell me? If they could have passed on some bits of wisdom for me, what would it have been? Or my great grandmothers, if they had the chance to tell me one thing, what would they choose? Or how about my great great grandparents and beyond?
And naturally my thinking began turning from the past, past the present, and into the future. What would I want my grandchildren of generations to come to know? If I had to pick some wisdom that I have stumbled across through no fault of my own – believe me on that – what would it be?
I know that the primary way we speak to our grandchildren is through our children. Our voice and message very much speaks through the kind of people they become. What they value, whom they cherish, and why is our message past on to future generations through our children.
But as important a message as that is, is there another way to pass on to the generations that follow a message we feel is important - a secondary method that would compliment the primary?
After thinking about it I came to the conclusion that the best candidate for this are family traditions. Since then, I have be trying to put together family traditions that carry with them the messages I want delivered to my children’s, children’s, children’s, … There’s little doubt that I will be forgotten, or only exist on a branch of a family tree in a book or hanging on someone’s wall but if I can just pass along a little of what is important, it’s just fine with me.
Manufactured family traditions may be a long shot, but I guess time will tell.
On Christmas Eve, before the kids go to bed, we read together a poem I wrote. I am no poet and claim no talent in that area, but only hoping to be published in a handful of homes in each generation. I can only hope that someday, years from now long after I’m not even a memory, some little children will be sitting with their parents listening to them read the story that’s been in the family for “years”.
Who Had Nothing
A gift was given by the Father,
To the house of all Mankind,
It came to a people waiting,
And it came at the perfect time.
The tree was ablaze with lights of faith,
Adorn with acts of love.
Topped with the shining star of hope,
Pointing to the heavens above.
Under the tree the Father placed,
A single gift with tender care.
Wrapped lovingly with special paper,
A paper so immaculate, so fair.
Then came the time to open this gift,
All the children gathered round.
And as they began to open it,
Not one of them made a sound.
As the gift was born from the paper,
One thing was known for sure,
The world was changed forever,
They had witnessed a miracle occur.
The gift shown forth a radiant light,
That filled the entire place.
The children looked down in wonder,
And saw a small child’s holy face.
But it wasn’t what some had expected,
It certainly wasn’t what they’d asked for.
But others knelt before the child,
And humbly began to adore.
With an angry look to their Father,
Some children left in haste.
While the children who remained,
Saw the pain on their Father’s face.
“Take this gift and go forth my children,
And bring it to all with loving care.
For I give this gift to you freely,
And of it freely you are to share.”
“Never hold your love from one another,
And pray for each other each day.
Know that true love is found in giving,
So give this gift you’ve been given away.”
“Bring the light of my love to the lost,
And your siblings in darkness find.
Knowing the more lovingly this gift is held,
The more brightly its light will shine.”
The Father knew this special gift,
Which He placed under the tree,
Would be to His children Hope,
And would set the captives free.
So my prayer for you this Christmas,
Is that with your love you might,
Give a gift back to our Father,
By witnessing to Him with your life.