Written by Carol Beaver, Church Advocate, Legacy Coalition
We live in a world that loves to celebrate. Almost anything seems to be worth having a party. But partying is not the full meaning of celebrating; celebrating also means remembering.
Today we talk about celebrating a life rather than holding a funeral because we want to share memories of our loved one or friend. God set up remembrances in His unfolding of His relationship with His people.
God gave the people the Ten Commandments to give them the rules they needed to live by. In His continuing conversations, God gave feasts and celebrations with specific directions and defined purposes, primarily so the people would remember all He had done. Within the commandments He told them to set aside the Sabbath as a weekly time of reflection on all He had done.
He set up eleven more feasts or celebrations for them throughout the Old Testament. The celebrations varied in their specific purpose, but all were designed to call to mind particular blessings and actions of God. Some of them were solemn, but many included feasts with bountiful food and joyous dancing. They were to be repeated annually at a specific time and their purpose was that the people do not forget God’s goodness.
He sent a message for us in Deuteronomy 6 when He told them that His words should be on their hearts. They were to “teach them diligently to your children and make them known to your children and your children’s children.” That is a tall order, and we live in a different world, but we must be creative and wise so we can impact our grandchildren.
How do we do that as grandparents in 2021? So many different barriers seem to stand between us and our grandchildren. Their world is very different from ours and how we grew up, and far different from the Israelite grandparents and grandchildren.
One of the best ways to help grandchildren remember is through celebrations.
We have a calendar full of holidays and celebrations. Christmas and Easter are obvious times when most of us can share Biblical truth with our grandchildren. Our decorations can reflect the season with manger scenes, stars, lights, special Christmas books, and special traditions. What’s at the top of your tree – an angel? Talk about why; tell the angels’ story. A few years ago, I put a crown of thorns at the top of my tree. Obviously, that drew questions. The answer was that I wanted to never forget why Baby Jesus was born and what He would suffer for me.
Tell them about your Christmas and Easter memories and traditions.
Most children are curious, loving to hear what Grandpa and Grandma did even if they laugh. If you have family traditions, tell the grandkids why you do it that way, especially if there is a God connection.
Easter is clearly a great opportunity, but it’s hard for children to fully understand with Easter Eggs and Easter bunnies that are just so cute. At a women’s Bible study I led several years ago we made resurrection eggs. They come out every year at my house as well as at many other homes. I shared the resurrection eggs the first year I had two bonus grandchildren at Christmas, and they had a reference point for Easter Sunday.
Take children to Holy Week services or watch videos or Zoom, but make sure they hear the real story of the Passover, Gethsemane, the trial, the Crucifixion, the death, and the resurrection. Check out great video material that tells the story keeping in mind the various maturity levels of the grandchildren.
Use birthdays to bless your grandchildren.
After my first Legacy conference, I wrote a blessing for each grandchild on their next birthday. It was personalized to them with my prayers and hopes for them. That tradition has continued. They are eager to open the card and discover what Mimi said.
Go through the calendar and think ahead to how to celebrate any holiday that can be honoring to God. When a celebration is of a president or famous person, talk about the characteristics that made the person successful and how specific characteristics would be on God’s list of good qualities. If an honored birthday was a person who, like Dr. Martin Luther King, made a positive difference in this world, talk about it with them.
For traditional holidays like Valentines or St. Patrick’s Day, find out what you can about the historical person. In these two cases, the story is about loving Christians from long ago.
Get your creative juices flowing.
For Arbor Day, take a nature walk and talk about all the different kinds of trees. Look at God’s variety! On Flag day, lead a discussion of the symbolism of the flag and tell the story of the Star-Spangled Banner. Talk about the ideals of our founding Fathers on the Fourth of July. Discuss the sacrifices of our soldiers on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day.
When Mother’s Day and Father’s Day come up on the calendar talk about how God helps you to be a good parent and tell appropriate stories about how God has helped you to grow in Him.
Tell the stories. Above all – Remember, Do Not Forget!