Read a couple chapters from Exodus through Deuteronomy in the Bible (or the Torah) and keep a look out for the words like monument, memorial, sign and the like and you may notice that God has a whole lot to say to the Israelites about doing things for a sign or as a memorial. Maybe you aren't to keen on the Bible or at least not what many consider to be the driest passages in the Bible, but I think there is a principle to be learned here. So track with me for a moment.
If you read this passage of Scripture, in addition to words synonymous with memorial, you will also find that the Israelites complain A LOT. God does something major for them like miraculously part the Red Sea and obliterate their enemy and two chapters later they are complaining to the same God. To their credit, while they may sound like major complainers, those two chapters contains the span of 30 days. Not long, but having had terrible bouts of morning sickness, it can definitely take me less than 30 days to get over the miracle of conception and the wonder and awe of holding life in my belly to the point where I loathe pregnancy, my husband, and all the putrid smells that surround me (I exaggerate, but I do definitely begin to complain after 30 days straight of puking.). I suppose I imagine this to be somewhat equivalent to life in the wilderness with limited resources and with the same people day in and day out. However, it seems that in most circumstances the better I remember the blessings and the overcoming of past obstacles, the easier time I have getting through my present circumstances and the easier time I have holding on to Joy. Complaining, in addition to making you terrible company to be around, sucks the life and Joy right out of you.
I think God knew how difficult it would be to not complain when He numerous times tells the Israelites to make monuments, turn a day into a celebration and do things as a sign or for a memorial. He knew they would want to complain. He knew they would need to remember.
My Christmas tree has become my Monument. When I first got married, I wanted a Christmas tradition that was all my family's own. I decided that every year we would pick out one ornament as a family. It's really a simple tradition, but I love it. Every year, we set out to find THE ornament that best says what the year has been about. Sometimes it's a day trip, sometimes it's just during a mall trip, and sometimes it's found on a family vacation. While the finding is fun, my favorite part is pulling out the ornaments from past years and remembering and sharing with my daughter what each ornament is from. Each ornament has a story. Each ornament is a monument of what God has done for us.
Our first Christmas together, we found our ornament on our honeymoon. It reminds me of the beginning, the first, and my love for my husband. I remember the memories my husband and I made on our honeymoon.
I think its so easy to get caught up in life happening: juice stains in carpet, birthday parties, meal planning, and the debate of how to best discipline your child to name a few. I think it's important for our kids and for our own sanity to pause and reflect every now and again. I know I want my kids to know me and who I am day in and day out and the Joy and Love that I attempt to carry with me at all times (or at least most of the time), but I also want them to get that the art of gratitude isn't a just a daily desicion it is also found in the monuments I make... the ways that I set time and items aside for God and His Glory. I have a much easier time keeping keeping Joy and Gratefulness a way of life when I pause every now and again and reflect on the many things I have to be grateful for.
I love that Christmas falls so close to the New Year. For me, it ends up being a season of reflection and gratitude. I love looking back and remembering just as much as I love looking forward to the next year. Perhaps you haven't experienced God like I have, but this girl knows with every fiber of her being that God has been good to her and with much or with less in good times or bad I will be Joyful. I will make monuments of the obstacles I and my family has overcome, the blessings we have received, and pray God gives me a tree with 55 ornaments and great grand kids to tell of God's goodness throughout my life.
Wishing you a MONUMENTAL Christmas!