Yesterday, October 31st, was Halloween, the night that ghosts and goblins roam the countryside before November 1st, better known as All Saint’s Day. All Saint’s Day is also known as Toussaint’s Day in France but the post this evening isn’t about ghosts or even saints for that matter – it’s about the traditions of our past.
It’s been a number of years since Janet and I carved a pumpkin by ourselves. Of course, for years we carved pumpkins with the kids, and even the grandchildren now that we have four boys who are growing up – but for some reason I got it in my head that I really wanted to have a jack-o-lantern this year. So… when I was shopping and spotted a pile of pumpkins I couldn’t help but buy one.
It’s been sitting in the garage for several weeks and although I also bought several painted pumpkins that we have put around the house, Halloween almost got away from me before I got around to carving my own pumpkin. Now most of you know that things have become a little more sophisticated in the carving business. You can buy all sorts of patterns and use special tools and get into some really awesome designs. But that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted a pumpkin like the kind that my parents carved with me, and my grandparents put in the front window with a candle when I was a little guy.
Even when we made jack-o-lanterns with the kids, we usually rigged up a light bulb to illuminate our work. But not this year – we went old school. Traditional triangle eyes and nose with that grin holding several teeth – lit by a real candle. It was great – and what memories it brought back. Janet and I were alone in the kitchen, working together, to design and create our own special Halloween project. I think it must be more than 40 years ago, when we were first married, that we were alone carving a pumpkin together.
And then today is November 1st – the day that we remember loved ones, usually from past generations, who have passed on. We dedicate this day to prayers and recollections of our lives years ago – bygone years – when things were probably different than they are today. And that brings us to the real topic this evening – remembering the past. Not only are the traditions of the past important, but the people from our past are important as well. It is from family members and older friends that we learn about how things used to be, and while are are quick to change and try new things, there is something comforting about the traditions of the past.
Less than a month from now, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a day filled with more traditions that almost any other holiday we have in America. Our verse for this evening, from the book of Deuteronomy, highlights the importance of days long gone. It gives us a link to the past and to the people who came before us. We are told, in Deut. 32:7, “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”
My encouragement this evening is that the traditions of the past are worth holding on to. They create continuity in families and also set the stage for new traditions in our families. My prayer is that you will preserve the ways of the past while working to create additional memories for future generations. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…