Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Problem With The Box

I'm not a big fan of tradition. It has a tendency to become a burden. A self-inflicted burden. Why would I do something like that to myself? Still, I feel some responsibility to create happy memories for my children, so I'm attempting to start a tradition. I have it on good authority that this particular tradition creates a fabulous spirit in the home during December.

It has to do with a little wrapped box. When you find the box, you know that some sort of service has been done for you. It then becomes your turn to serve someone else in the family and pass the box on. Thus, the box gets passed around the family and service done every single day for an entire month.

When I explained the concept at Family Home Evening this week, the kids seemed excited. Of course I meant to have the box all ready to show them on Monday night, but I didn't. Starting traditions is so hard. I did have it ready to go by December 1st though. Isaac decided he would be the first to serve.

"What do I get for serving?" He asked.

"A good feeling," I said.

"Can we have a contest to see who does the most service?" He said.

"It's not a contest," I said. "You just have to serve someone to be nice. For Jesus," I said.

Isaac finally agreed and went up to his room to work on his deed. He came back downstairs a few minutes later with a big smile on his face. "Don't make your bed tomorrow, OK mom?"

"OK" I said.

So the box fell to me. But what could I do to serve my kids that I didn't already do? I already make the younger boy's beds. I do everyone's laundry. I put their things in their room when they leave them scattered around the house. I cook their meals. I put band aids on their boo boos, help them with their homework, read them books at night, return their library books, empty their trash, keep them well supplied with cookies. What else could I do that would be extra?

I imagined making Jonah's bed and leaving the box on the pillow. "What's this for?" I pictured him asking.

"I made your bed," I'd reply.

"So. That doesn't count. You make my bed every day anyway."

(Confession: Jonah sleeps on top of his bedspread with a blanket, so all I have to do to "make" his bed is fold the blanket.)

Traditions are so hard.

So I didn't do any service today. Today I didn't even do the stuff I regularly do. I didn't take the trash bins back from the curb and I didn't make beds. I made grilled cheese for dinner. I had to stop doing service, so I could do service.

Not that anyone noticed.

And tomorrow, when I make Jonah's bed for service, I fully expect to have the above conversation. This tradition may have failed before it even got started.

And that is the problem with the box.


Erika said...

I love the box idea! You're absolutely right-traditions are a big pain in the bum, but it is those traditions that will help my kids feel close to our family back in Utah who they miss so much this holiday season. Traditions tie a family together when separated. So even though I will have to carry them all out myself this year with no mom or sisters to help, the happy feelings and memories they will bring to my kids will be so worth it. At least that's what I'm telling myself! We'll see how it goes.

a said...

Santa has a tradition in our family. He always puts an orange in the toe of your stocking if you have been really good. There is a visible sigh of relief on everyone's face when they reach in and feel an orange. But what else can Santa put in a stocking that my over indulged children don't already own? Between their birthday parties and occasional gifts from mom and dad, and what they can buy for themselves, they already have so much. So every year on October first, we don't buy the kids or let them by themselves anything. Nothing! If they want something they have to write it down and hope to get it on Christmas. Even then, some of it they have changed their minds by the big day, some of it was not what they thought it would be, and some of it they are happy to have; and yet are done with all too soon. And yet, not learning my lesson, I buy them the next thing. They have so much. So very much. Maybe I should start giving them coupons for time with mom or dad. Or maybe I should look at my own things and see how fast I am done with them, too. Just made me think the way you have to stop automatically doing so many services for the kids to help them see that what you do for them is a service. Their good kids, and thanks yous do come, but still, I wonder if every generation feels they are spoiling the next generation a bit too much?