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Memories of family traditions

By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Robert 'Chappy' O'Dell 2nd Bomb Wing Chapel

"We have this moment to hold in our hand, and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand. Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today." Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote this beautiful song that I find myself reflecting on and remembering this holiday season.

While each day has the same number of hours, some days seem to go faster than others. Yet within my soul, some moments live beyond the experience of time through the memories with family and friends.

I'm sure you have similar experiences as well. They may come in the traditions of a special birthday plate, or sharing a bed time story each night or even cutting off a part of each year's Christmas tree and writing the date and location in which you shared that Christmas.

However, these special moments don't always just happen; they are more times than not planned on purpose. That is the joy of traditions that draw us together. They are planned and anticipated.

One such tradition was how we learned of the hidden pickle in the Christmas tree during our assignment to Germany. While we missed our families in the states, adapting this tradition became a part of our memories we still practice as we gather together each Christmas season. While, the origins of the hidden pickle tradition may be unresolved, our kids often awake each Christmas to find the hidden pickle before their brother or sister. I remember one year, I found the perfect place to hide the pickle for our teenage children. Even today we laugh and remember as my children say I cheated after they learned the pickle was hidden in the skirt of the angle on top of the tree after they searched for almost thirty minutes that Christmas morning.

Another Christmas tradition was the lighting of our advent wreath each year. I don't remember when we started, but we allowed our children to light a specific candle during advent. Even today, when one of our kids are not able to join, we remember who's turn it is to light the advent candle as we celebrate Christmas each year.

In the frantic pace of our lives in the military, traditions provide a rich heritage that draws us together even as the miles separate us from those whom we love. So no matter your traditions or the lack of them, I encourage you to spend this holiday season together and enjoy your rich heritage or even maybe start some new ones.

You see, life moments are like sand slipping through our hands, but with care and purpose, our traditions help create memories that will last a life time. When I marry a couple, I share as they grow old and their hair turns gray, I pray that their stories and memories together bring laughter and joy. During this Christmas and throughout the coming year, may you and your loved ones enjoy your family traditions and the memories you create. May God bless each one of you.