November 25, 2022

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Holiday traditions change in the lifespan of families

Sean GallagherThanksgiving, Advent and Christmas are filled with many beautiful and beloved traditions.

The Church’s age-old liturgies and devotions during this time draw us closer to Christ and help us to lead others to an encounter with him.

Other holiday traditions are focused on the home. Families simply coming together at Thanksgiving and Christmas is a custom at the heart of these holidays. Many of us got a stark reminder of the value of this tradition during the past couple of years when COVID-19 kept families apart for the holidays.

I have so many memories of sharing wonderful Thanksgiving feasts with my parents, my sister and others who we invited to our home on that special day.

My wife Cindy, our five sons and I have been blessed with the opportunity to make these memories come to life in our own Thanksgiving meals.

Many of the Thanksgiving holidays Cindy and I have shared in our 21 years of married life have involved my parents. Early on in our marriage, Cindy, our young growing family and I would often go to my parents’ home for the day. In later years, they came to our home.

This year was different, though. My father passed away on April 27. And my mom died seven years ago. So, this was the first Thanksgiving on which I didn’t have the chance to share turkey and all the fixings with either of my parents.

So, traditions can change. Old ones can die. New ones can be born.

A new one may have started this year. This Thanksgiving, my in-laws Steve and Edie Lecher came to our home for the day.

Up until now, they had celebrated the holiday at home with their children. Through the years, Thanksgiving dinner in the Lecher home grew to be quite a feast as God blessed Steve and Edie with 11 children.

Even as many of their children grew, got married and started their own holiday traditions, their younger kids would still come home for Thanksgiving. But now the youngest of the children are either married, engaged or have a significant other.

So, this was the first time since Steve and Edie’s first year of marriage in 1971 that there wasn’t someone in their home other than themselves to share a Thanksgiving meal with. Cindy and I were grateful that they accepted our invitation to come to our home for the holiday.

As much as we may value holiday traditions and think that they need to continue unchanged from year to year, we have to recognize that everything on this side of eternity is subject to change. Nothing here stays the same forever.

Even the proverbial certainties of death and taxes will come to an end—at least on that blessed day when our Lord returns in glory.

Then all of us living in his grace will be drawn by him to the eternal wedding banquet in heaven.

Maybe one of the reasons at the heart of our love for families gathering at holidays and sharing a meal together is that we know, at the bottom of our hearts, that this tradition is a foretaste of what God has destined for each of us in heaven.

So, while family holiday feasts may change over time as loved ones are born and die, this continuing tradition, filled with God’s grace and observed from year to year, leads us all closer to our fulfillment in heaven. †

Local site Links: