The Essence of Tradition

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As I reflect on the past year, I wanted to repost one of my favorites from last Christmas. Maybe it’s one of my favorites because the author is one of my favorites. You guessed it, today’s post is from Hannah Persall Svebakken, our oldest daughter. You’ve read several posts about her, but maybe you missed her own special post that she penned last year. Make yourself a cup of hot spiced punch and enjoy some of Hannah’s Christmas memories. 

 

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Hannah with her husband, Steve.

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“Christmas is such a magical time of year. I think one thing that makes it so wonderful is the way we can pile memories upon memories. Christmastime, in a way different than any other time of the year, is full of traditions shared with family.

 

“As I look back to childhood Christmases, I fondly remember traditions and family. Decorating the Christmas tree with family on the day after Thanksgiving. Drinking Memaw’s Hot Spiced Punch (recipe below). Writing a letter to Jesus each Christmas Eve and placing it in the manger handmade by my Dad. Putting nativities up all around the house.

 

“But now, with my own little family, I’ve realized that there are very few of the childhood traditions that we carry out in quite the same way. We usually aren’t home on the day after Thanksgiving, and I am the only one (so far!) that really cares for Memaw’s Hot Spiced Punch. My children are not yet old enough to write, but we do love to put up nativities all through the house.

 

“So it seems that what is important about traditions is not necessarily the action, but the essence.

 

“I am drawn to Psalm 78:1-7:

 

“Incline your ears to the words of my mouth! …Things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.

 

“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done…

 

“He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”

 

“Listen, remember the teachings of God. Teach your children, that they may teach their children, who will turn and teach their children, who will even pass it on to their children.

 

“What a story! Passed down from generation to generation.

 

“Why? So that they should set their hope in God and not forget Him.

 

“Traditions are a way of remembering the past, so that we can have HOPE in the future. Because we remember God’s faithfulness in the past, we are able to HOPE for our future.

 

“I am in the middle of this trail of generations.

 

“When Memaw made her Hot Spiced Punch and sipped it with little Kandy, I know she quietly, earnestly told her daughter that the only reason we have HOPE is because of Christ.

 

“When my mother started the tradition of our family writing letters to Jesus, she was silently pleading with Him that He would spark FAITH in her daughters’ hearts (Hebrews 11:1).

 

“And I know that as I unpack nativities with my children, and set them up throughout the house, I PRAY that Jesus would be more to them than a baby in a manger. That He would become Lord of their hearts – hearts that find their HOPE in Christ (Romans 8:23-25).

 

“We pray that our children will set their hope in God. For God alone can grant FAITH to those who HOPE in him. Our traditions and stories cannot save our children. The essence lies with Christ, who is faithful (John 6:37).

 

“We fill our days with stories of the works of God, so that our children will not forget. This season of Christmas allows us to share in a unique way the HOPE that Jesus brought to the world.

 

“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

 

“We carry on traditions and tell our children the wonders of our God, so that none of us will forget. So that they will see: this has meaning. This is important. This is worth remembering.

 

“The punch and the nativities are special. And sometimes traditions involve sugar and decorations. But the reason we seek to make special memories this time of year is because we want to remember the baby that gave us HOPE (Titus 3:4-7).

 

“We celebrate this season, carry out traditions, sing songs and deck the halls because HOPE was born into a hopeless world. And through faith in Him, HOPE can be birthed in our own hearts (1 Peter 1:3-5)”.

 

“Incline your ears to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 78:1). I pray that as you do so, “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE” (Romans 15:13).

 

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Hannah and her dad writing a “letter to Jesus” in 1988.

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MeMaw’s Hot Spiced Punch

 

2-46 oz. containers of 100% Cranberry Juice

2-46 oz. cans of pineapple juice

6-8 “Constant Comment” tea bags (other orange or apple spiced teas will also work)

6 cinnamon sticks

1 pkt. Crystal Light powdered lemonade drink mix

 

Percolator method: Pour both juices into the bottom of the percolator. Place other three ingredients into top of percolator basket. Plug in and allow to perk through full cycle. Serve. (Best if percolator has never made coffee, as these continue to have a slight coffee scent/flavor even after washed.)

 

Stove top: Remove tags from tea bags. Combine all ingredients into a large soup pot. Allow to simmer on low for 30 minutes before serving.

 

Note: Recipe may be halved. You can experiment with your favorite tea bags, flavored cranberry juices and even add cloves. Using cranberry cocktail blends will result in a sweeter punch.

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