The Feast is for families. The Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium, and the Millennium is a time for family. It is the time when God the Father and Jesus Christ will share the purpose for families, the laws of family, and the God Family way of life with every person on Earth. People will work hard to fulfill God’s roles for fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren and grandparents—and at the Feast, they will rejoice!
The Feast of Tabernacles is the time for us to learn and practice God’s family life—now. “And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter …” (Deuteronomy 16:14).
How can you have a happy, memorable, meaningful Feast? One way is to embrace—perhaps even help start—family Feast traditions. If Dad says, “We are going to start doing this at this year’s Feast,” be an enthusiastic part of the tradition! You could even be the one to suggest it.
Here are some Feast traditions other families have shared.
Get your hopes up. Create a list of Feast goals together as a family. Plan your trip together. A few weeks before leaving, make a paper “Feast chain.” At the end of each day (perhaps after a family dinner), one of you tears off a link and counts how many days are left. Ask your parents to take you clothes shopping for a special holy day dress, shoes, suit or tie, or for gifts you can give. Write out names and addresses of shut-ins you can send pre-Feast postcards to. Make Feast greeting cards: Sit in an “assembly line” around the kitchen table, with each person adding something to each card. Mail them so they arrive right before the fall holy days.
Make the trip a blast. Play car games like 20 Questions, Bible trivia, or other games. Take turns sharing favorite Feast memories. Take turns reading Feast of Tabernacles excerpts from Church literature. Rather than eating in the car or at a fast-food joint, suggest a picnic. Ask to take an extra day or two to visit scenic sites along the way.
Stick together. On occasion, your parents will likely let you spend time with just your friends, but don’t be anxious to get away from your family. Ask if you can invite your friends over to your family’s hotel room. Host a pizza or dessert night. Ask if you can bring a friend when your family goes out to eat. And on some occasions, just enjoy being with your family. You won’t always live with them and have the same opportunity to make the same kinds of memories. Show by your words and your actions how fun family can be! Try starting the day with a compliment for each family member. Take Mom to the café for coffee one morning. Exercise together. Talk to your parents one-on-one; bond with your siblings. Take a yearly family Feast picture near the stage or a Feast sign or something else reminiscent of the site.
Live the way of give. Volunteer to serve alongside Dad or Mom. Sing in the choir with your siblings or parents. Perform something together as a family for entertainment night. Bake batches of cookies and pass them out to other brethren at the hotel. Give out trinkets or keepsakes to children and/or adults. Babysit so that a couple can have a date night. Perhaps set a goal to meet three new people each day (find out their name, their hometown, and three other facts about them); if other members of your family participate, compare notes at the end of the day. Add to your list of people to send cards to next year. Gather a group for a sightseeing excursion. Invite friends to the park or the pool. Bring a stack of thank you cards and write one for anyone who extends you a kindness—even waiters or others in the world.
Enjoy your family dinners. See if your family can include others in Feast meals when possible. Adopt seniors, fatherless, singles, internationals and all types of other spiritual family members. Have a multi-family barbecue at a local park. Enjoy a night at the nicest restaurant you can afford—perhaps save it for the eve of the Last Great Day.
Talk it out. Talk about the sermonette, sermon or your fellowship as you walk back to your hotel room, drive to activities or eat meals. Ask your parents questions about how food, vehicles, buildings, parks, cities, businesses, entertainment, activities, education, or other parts of life will be different in the Millennium. Review notes together after services. Over dinner, each family member can share something new they learned that day. Talk deeply over a campfire. Have a “stick night” near the end of the Feast where you pass a stick around and each person shares one of the biggest things he or she learned.
If your parents start up (or have started up) a family Feast tradition, don’t drag your feet—jump in with both of them. Make it fun! The difference between something that lasts less than eight days and something that becomes a fun, meaningful tradition and gets better year after year after year could be your participation and enthusiasm!