Family Traditions… Start One!

Tim Norris Personal Experiences & Stories

With the fall season in full swing for most of the United States, it brings a lot of excitement to those of us who are ‘celebrators’. This feeling and participation in parties, food, gifts, bonfires, lights, decorations and family gatherings are widely observed by most. What I find most interesting are the unique ‘rituals’ that families honor – often started many years ago by someone’s great, great grandpa or grandma. The observations that lend themselves to different nationalities and geographies around the world can also be intriguing when they consist of components that might not be common to your own culture. There are many out there, but here is one that obviously does not ‘fit’ with my understanding of the size and shape of Santa.

SANTARUN, Newtown, Wales Occurring in the last week of November or the first week in December, the Santarun is exactly as it sounds—lots of participants, many dressing up as Santa, running in a long-distance race. About 5000 people congregate to jog over 7 kilometers. The real jolly Old St. Nick would have a difficult time keeping up with the participants in this run, many who can clock times of 18 minutes or less. The run is organized by charity, meaning the Santa’s in this run help give their own gifts to the needy, and you may even be part of the run that breaks a Guinness World Record. All in all, you can keep off a little holiday weight, be charitable, and maybe even be part of history.

The Norris family developed a recent ‘tradition’ after my visit to an earthquake ravaged Port-Au-Prince, Haiti in 2010.

We have two German Shepherds named Frank and Jessie…. James is their last name. One day, Frank, the alpha of the two, got a little feisty when I was filling up his food bowl. Before I could complete my task, he took his head and nudged my hand away. Well, he and I had a discussion about who the real alpha was in our relationship and out of that incident the Norris family developed a ‘tradition’ and it goes like this . . .

1. Whoever feeds the dogs, has them sit by their food bowl.
2. The food bowls are then filled and the dogs remain seated.
3. A prayer of thanksgiving is then offered to our provider of all things, and here is the part that gets quoted every time: “Thank you Lord for clean water, food and our shelter”
4. As soon as we end with “Amen”, Frank and Jessie immediately know it is time to start eating.

The reason this tradition is on-going with our family is quite simple: The feeding and watering of Frank and Jessie is our reminder, twice every day, for Joy, Corban, TC, and I that we are blessed beyond measure. Our two beautiful dogs eat better, have cleaner water, and have better shelter than the vast majority of Haitians.

This is from ASTMH, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene:
Haiti is the most underserved country in the western hemisphere in terms of water and sanitation infrastructure by a wide margin; only 69% of the population has access to an improved water source and 17% had access to improved sanitation facilities in 2010. In addition, Haiti is the only country of 161 with available sanitation data in which the proportion of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities decreased from 1995 to 2010 for reasons other than a population decrease. Damage to infrastructure from the magnitude 7.0 January 2010 earthquake, which killed an estimated 230,000 persons and injured 300,000, likely contributed to this decrease, but sanitation coverage in Haiti had already decreased before the earthquake from the 1990 level of 26% to 17% in 2008. This lack of water and sanitation services contributed to the severity and rapid spread of the ongoing cholera epidemic that began in Haiti in October 2010, and had resulted in 658,563 reported cases of cholera and 8,111 reported deaths as of June 2, 2013. The primary means of cholera transmission is through consumption of water contaminated with human waste. With low sanitation coverage and inadequate availability and treatment of drinking water, few barriers were in place to stop the rapid spread of cholera, especially in a population that had not previously been exposed to the disease.

I am thankful and proud that my family and I have instilled a ritual/tradition/custom… a HABIT of showing thankfulness for God’s provisions. What traditions does your family have? How cool would it be to create a tradition that brings your family together to then help another family!