December 22, 2011

The Gift of Family Heritage

by Renee Rowell 

On December 14, 2001, my in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Like most young couples just starting out, they didn't have much, so their wedding was very simple. He wore a simple suit instead of a tuxedo. She wore a simple skirt and jacket instead of a wedding dress. There was no reception to speak of; just well wishes of close family and friends as they began their new life together.

The year before, my husband and I, along with his three siblings and their spouses, began talking about and planning for the celebration. We decided to give them the reception they never had. To be held at their church in the fellowship hall, I was given the task of decorating the room. There were the traditional holiday trimmings, all reflective of a golden anniversary; gold wreaths on all the windows, Christmas greenery on the tables, gold glitter candles on the guest book table. 

But, there was one display that really put into perspective what the celebration was really all about. 

My mother-in-law had amassed quite a collection of family photos over the years, and I really wanted to come up with a unique way to display them. As part of the decorating scheme, I had purchased a set of two white, spiral LED Christmas trees. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure just what to do with them…then it hit me.

I placed the trees on a table in the back of the room and asked my oldest son and my niece to begin attaching all of the family photos to them using red and green ribbon looped onto ornament hangers.  After the photos were hung, we turned the tree lights on. How beautiful they were! Standing back and looking at the photos in the glow of the tree lights, one could begin to see a story unfold; a legacy of life and love that has been passed from generation to generation.

In moments like these, especially during the holidays, it's a little bit easier to be thankful for our family, even amidst some of the drama and hectic last minute preparations. But...what if we went a little deeper? What if we didn't stop at being thankful? What if we actually considered the legacy we are building? What if we understood that our words and actions toward our family are building blocks in the foundation of our legacy and a springboard for them as they live out their own legacy?

As we approach the new year, let's consider the words of Jesus, "As I have loved you, so you love another."  If you have a heritage of love, you have the opportunity to regift that love to the next generation. If you don’t, why not establish a new family tradition through the written and spoken word that becomes a living diary of love?

Renee is a 2011 Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks graduate and has been happily married to her husband, David, for 25 years.  They have two sons; their oldest is currently serving overseas in the Air Force, and their youngest graduated high school earlier this year and is working towards college. Her husband is Director of Worship and Media at their church, and in addition to serving alongside him and blogging, she is currently writing her first book. You can connect with her on Twitter or her blog.

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