My grandmother gave me new pajamas every Christmas Eve. When I slipped into the new nightgown I found myself wearing all the anticipation of Advent, ready to burst into Christmas morning after one more sleep.
Now my own mother gives my children pajamas on Christmas Eve. She also stuffs Easter baskets with new swimsuits, goggles, flip-flops and beach towels. Every year since they can remember…
Does she have to do this? No. She gets to because she’s grandma to Justin and Emma! My mother has the capacity to give generously, to show tangible love with these seasonal gifts. And she loves it – so the tradition is carried out year after year.
We could afford to get our kids slippers and flip-flops, clothes for sleeping and swimming and such. But sometimes it’s not about the economics. Sometimes it’s about the tradition of connection, about the expression of love, about gifts that celebrate a new season shared together.
So this year, as in every year since we can remember, we provided school supplies for the kids in Matara. We brought up new school uniforms for the first-time students and some for the ones who hit a growth spurt over the summer months. We brought up composition books, pencils and pens for the fresh start in a new classroom. We brought stacks of books for more reading. It’s back to school in Matara!
And this is what we do – not because we have to anymore, but because we get to. We get to shower these kids with school supplies every September. We get to christen another school year together because we are friends.
Our friends can afford more now. They’ve come a long way from the days of necessary handouts. Now they proudly plant, tend, harvest and take produce to market. Now they run local businesses. Now they can lend each other money – any pay it back.
But they still love the gesture of friendship that comes like Christmas Eve… because it speaks of connection, love and celebration.
(The school supplies do help. They do lighten the economic load on the families. But more than anything these September supplies are about on-going friendship.)
So this September we took school supplies to our friends in Matara. We anticipate together another year of kids succeeding in school, acknowledging the new normal as much as anything else. The kids will skip to school on Monday with confidence, anticipation and readiness.
We gave school supplies. But their parents will be the ones who really give them all they need to succeed this year – good food fresh from their fields, milk from the cows, clean water from the stream for drinking and bathing, clean clothes each morning, time to do homework each afternoon and plenty of love.
Traditions are good. They remind us that we are connected. They invite us to remember and celebrate together.