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Teaching through tradition

The value of family traditions encourages many of us to make them an integral part of our lives. According to family psychologists, children who grow up in homes rich with tradition seem to have an easier time adapting to their ever-changing world. They usually have a more positive sense of identity and belonging than children whose families don’t adhere to tradition.

Children learn what their family treasures and believes by the traditions they uphold.

Debra Beter Walker, a retired registered nurse, remembers the tradition of gift giving at Christmas as a special part of her childhood. She loves to give to others and feels that the spirit of giving was instilled in her at a very young age.

“We always went to Gretna on Christmas Eve for a family holiday party. When I was old enough to understand the significance of Christmas, I thought of all the gifts I had received from both my maternal and paternal grandmothers. I wanted to do something special to show my love and appreciation for them so I babysat and saved my money with Christmas in mind,” Walker said.

“I don’t remember how much money I was able to save, but I bought both of my grandmothers beautiful pins for their scarves. I still remember them holding back tears when they opened their gifts from me. They must have known how hard I had worked to purchase them,” she continued.

Walker’s mother, Elinor Beter, spent hours creating a beautiful ceramic nativity at her neighbor’s kiln to give Debra for Christmas one year. This gift occupies a special place in Walker’s home as she displays it each year. Sharing the nativity set and the story of how her mother made it has become one of the traditions the Walker family holds dear.

According to Walker, “My maternal grandmother, Patty Sue Smith, had the gift of hospitality, and she loved ministering to others in her community. She enjoyed opening her home and cooking for people. This love of sharing with others was passed down to me along with the china that I saw her use many, many times.”

Now Walker carries on the tradition begun by her grandmother by opening her home to friends and family. She used her Grandma Smith’s china to bless her prayer partners with a special Christmas Tea this year.

Said Walker, “When I was young I knew about the Lord, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. In 1975 I received the greatest gift. One of my college friends invited me to her home in Baker, La. She took time to share her faith with me, and this literally revolutionized my life. My Christian faith is the part of my heritage that I want to pass down to the next generation.”