How To Leave a Legacy (& Tips For Creating New Traditions!)

The holidays have always been sentimental for me, but add a baby into the mix and it’s a whole new level! Last year at this time we were getting ready to find out Finnley’s gender and this year we’re dressing him in a dinosaur costume! Crazy! The memories I’ve made around the holidays are dear to me and I’ve carried that spirit of celebration into my marriage. I love taking advantage of any little excuse to celebrate and I’m not going to lie, early in our marriage, it made me tricky to please. I expected that everyone loved to celebrate EVERYTHING as much as I did and it just isn’t the case. I also love the Love Languages (you probably already know that because I talk about them all the time!) *More on those here! – I’m a gifts and words person. Jordan’s Love Languages couldn’t be more opposite! I can clearly remember being so disappointed in our first year of marriage when he had zero interest in doing Easter baskets for each other. So let’s just say that’s NOT a tradition we have. 😉 Jordan has come a long way in celebrating the little things with me because he loves me well, but I’ve been waiting for the day I have kids to go all out with over the holidays. So here we are, first holiday out of the newborn fog and Finnley is completely unaware that halloween is coming up. So we’ll be continuing our super exciting tradition of buying a ton of junk food, turning out the lights, and watching a scary movie (that’s not too scary because I’m a wimp!) and Finnley will be in bed on time like any other day. But you better believe he’ll be wearing monster pjs and next year, look out!!

I can’t help but dream about the traditions we’re going to build together; especially during this time of year. Tradition makes up who we are. We subconsciously carry on traditions we were raised with every day (positive or negative) and eventually, those traditions we hold to create a legacy. What a weighty word! It seems like legacy is most often referred to in reference to what someone’s left behind, but lately I’ve been challenged by the realization that the traditions I’m continuing for myself and my family today are creating that legacy.

I don’t want to play the “I wonder what will be written on my tombstone” game. I want to know – our family is leaving a legacy of loving Jesus and loving people.

I want to be living in such a way that it can be said we are creating the foundation for generations of people who are disciplined and live abundantly, who prioritize relationship, who choose joy and celebrate; generations of world changers to come!

I feel really proud of the legacy that family members before me have worked hard to create. My convictions are rooted in the discipline of generations before me. Of committed marriages, generosity, hard work… It’s something I walk in and feel the commission to continue. But that legacy doesn’t go back forever. We’re all learning as we go and choosing the traditions we will keep for ourselves and the ones we will change in the name of the future we believe in. Maybe there are pieces of your family legacy you’d rather not continue with your own children or maybe you want no part of the legacy thats been established before you. At some point, somewhere down the line of every genealogy, someone felt the same way. They decided that they wanted a future set apart from their past. That’s what it takes to build a legacy. One person! One person breaking cycles and saying, “this is not what I want to be known for.” One person deciding they want more (or different) for their future family and being the change. The bible is FULL of these stories and is there a greater legacy?

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If a life walked with Jesus is all my great grandkids remember of me, I’d call that a life well lived.

You might feel like you’re starting from scratch, but you don’t have to. The family tradition you’re familiar with might be hurt, rejection, abuse, or disfunction and starting over might seem hopeless. I don’t pretend to know that history, but I know the One who’s invited you to join a new family line. One with a legacy that will outlast the greatest earthy legacies and one that is stronger than the worst of them. It’s a legacy of redemption, grace, victory, belonging, and LOVE! That’s the kind of legacy I’m after and if a life walked with Jesus is all my great grandkids remember of me, I’d call that a life well lived.

Where do we start? Here and now! Wherever you are today – it’s time to start the habits that will be someday’s traditions. You don’t have to keep claiming the reputation of those that have come before – you were made to live a life that points to the one who made you! When you make inconvenient choices in the name of discipline and progress, you are laying the foundation of grit that future generations will learn from. When you make it a priority to sit around the table with your family you are developing a tradition of relationship and the prayers before that meal time are setting an example of humility and thanks that will last for years. When you choose to love your spouse with sacrifice, even when it’s hard, you are impacting the statistics of divorce and broken families that will one day reflect the state of this country.

Mother Teresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” So that’s where I’m starting today!

I’m recommitting myself to starting my day with God and starting a tradition of reading my bible out loud to my son. Even though he can’t understand now, some day, years down the road, it’s my hope that my kids and I will still be worshipping together . I want part of our Carter legacy to be knowing God’s word and placing Him at the front of our days and the front of our lives.

What’s a tradition you hope to have with your family someday?

Start today! Begin it with your family or your significant other. Maybe it’s time to start a fun tradition with your roommates or a group of friends. I’m a firm believer that shared experience and tradition creates deeper relationship – so have fun together! It might just be you and God starting something fresh. Big or small, your actions today are building the foundation of your legacy – intentional or unintentional. So carry on traditions with purpose! You have the power to start impacting future generations today!

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I hope I sparked some ideas of meaningful tradition! It’s not just the big things we do once a year, it’t the little things we do every month, every week, every day. Habits become traditions become legacies. So let’s walk like we mean it!

If you’re with me and love any excuse to celebrate – here’s some fun suggestions to start incorporating into your fall season traditions:

– 10 ideas for festive fun in the fall –

1. Treats Treats Treats! This is such a fun time to bake or enjoy desserts that we don’t always eat. Get wild with it and bake some extra for your neighbors or bring treats to your co-workers! Let your kids help even if it means way more mess 😉 Bonus points if you get a little Pinteresty… I saw someone make jack-o-lantern out of a cheese quesadilla for their kids’ lunch today! It can be simple!!

2. Go apple picking. 1- better and cheaper than grocery store apples! 2 – gorgeous, but no hassle, backdrop for some beautiful pictures!

3. Find an orchard where you can learn about and participate in making your own cider! It’s always a double bonus when a fun activity is also a learning experience and you get to take goodies home!

4. Take advantage of seasonal activities in your area! Pumpkin patches (does that need to be said?), Corn mazes, Local harvest parties put on by churches, even farm stores. There’s something to be said for making regular outings seem special! You can turn anything into a purposeful adventure! And that leads me to…

5. Do regular things on theme! Here’s what I mean by that. Have a scentsy? Pick out some season specific scents! Movie nights? Pick movies that fit the season/holiday. The Free Form channel actually releases a new movie every night of October (mostly family friendly-ish) and that’s about all the scary I can handle! 😉 Dinner time – how can you be creative or make things that give you the feel of the season? I love making homemade soups in the fall. It’s a cozy meal! A friend of mine makes a recipe called “dinner in a pumpkin!” Think about how you can put a festive twist on every day things.

6. Decorate. This doesn’t have to cost a ton of money (or any), but a little dressing up can change the entire feel of your space. I wrote up some suggestions for budget friendly ways to decorate for fall on a budget (check that out here!), but it can really be as simple as going on a hunt for the prettiest fall leaves and brining them inside for the mantel. Just do something to change up your home in a fun way.

7. Get artsy! Come up with a fun craft to do with your kids, invite your girlfriends over for a paint night… doodle a hand written pumpkin card and send it to someone just because! 🙂 Just take some time to let loose, have simple fun, and create.

8. Make a bucket list. I have seen people do this with their family for the summer or specific holiday seasons. It could be a fun thing to do monthly! Especially as this fall/winter season drags on, I find myself feeling less enthused about the season because there’s no holiday to look forward to anymore. This month’s bucket list might look like: go to the pumpkin patch, drink apple cider… But January’s might be: make a list of intentions for the year, have a movie marathon, drive to the snow… You get it!

9. Get out and enjoy the beauty of the season! We’ve been trying to take more walks as a family before its raining every day and I cant get enough of the crunchy leaves! Stroll through your neighborhood or drive to a park. It’s simple quality time to get some fresh air and just enjoy a change of pace together.

10. Gather! Invite your friends over to celebrate – the season, a holiday, just being together is reason enough to celebrate. And sometimes it’s just a great excuse to go all out the way you wouldn’t on a normal night. Pick a theme, do a potluck, dress up… Here’s one: Some friends of our’s like to host “Hotcakes and Horrors” nights which basically just means we all eat pancakes for dinner and watch a moderately scary movie that I can handle. 🙂 Make everyone wear pajamas! Whatever you do, do it with people. Seasons are better that way – all of them!

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2 thoughts on “How To Leave a Legacy (& Tips For Creating New Traditions!)

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