Tradition. What’s the first thing that you think of when you hear that word? Quite honestly, I cannot help but hear the strains of the song “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof— Tevye singing in his robust voice as he snaps and dances down the country lane. I also instantly think about the tradition of the holidays that will soon be approaching!
This last week, our family was introduced to a new experience. Something that more than likely will be a new tradition in our family of five…
It all started with a simple question I asked my husband: What would be a fun way to celebrate his birthday this year?
“Maznik, Zelnik,” his answer was instantaneous.
I repeated the words quietly… I’d heard them before… oh yes, the special delicacies his grandma would make for him as a little boy in Macedonia. He’s talked of them often but we’d never prepared them.
I listened as he recalled the process of preparing these pastries, his eyes lighting up showing me a glimpse of that lovable twelve-year-old boy he used to be.
So it was settled… we would make Maznik and Zelnik together as a family for his birthday this year.
The birthday rolled around and it was time to get down to business.
My husband gathered our three kids in the kitchen, causing them each to gasp as he flung a handful of flour on the table. “Let’s make it the way my grandma used to…”
Each child was instructed to throw a handful of flour on the table, roll it out, stack it up and repeat the process several times. We did this, one sprinkle of flour upon another, until we looked up and there was flour everywhere- including the floor and our cheeks!
We continued the process (outlined in recipes below) and into the oven the Maznik and Zelnik went, delicious smells wafting through the house.
When my husband cut the Maznik and Zelnik, sharing them with the children, the truth hit me. This event wasn’t solely for the purpose of celebrating his birthday. Something else rare and wonderful had occurred… a sharing of my husband’s history, culture, tradition. And in sharing this our children are finding out more of who their father is… and the heritage they have. One child’s eyes lit up as her dad talked about his upbringing in Macedonian and Grandma Neta. Another child laughed as his dad told him about eating nearly half the tray in one sitting. Our youngest smiled as she rolled the dough, doing a more efficient job than any seven year old I’ve ever seen (she’s got her Great Grandma Neta’s rolling talent).
So to see the kids enjoying this tradition of their dad’s past— here in our own kitchen in the good old USA— it made me realize the importance of tradition, of legacy. Of passing down what we know, what we love, and parts of us that are true no matter how many years have passed. By passing that down, it is also opening our children’s eyes to a part of who they are.
Later that day, as I cleaned the flour that had been sprinkled on the table and floor, it got me thinking… how much more so are we to pass down God’s legacy into our family?
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”Deuteronomy 6: 6-9
Loosely paraphrased this verse says, “Listen! This is important! You must pass the faith legacy on to your children. It’s your story, your life, your love. Without it, there’s nothing of kingdom importance. Do everything you can to sprinkle the tradition, God’s Truth, into every day.”
If we don’t pass these stories— our story of how the Lord has changed our life— how He is our everything— how else will our children know? How else will future generations know? It’s a lot more serious than just losing a family recipe. This is urgent— there are literally millions of things competing for our kid’s attention— most of them with no eternal significance.
It’s our job as parents to protect our stories, share our stories, inspire our children— open their eyes to their legacy and who they are— because we believe and serve the one Almighty God. And how do we share this faith legacy? By living it, displaying it.. But also talking about it. Sprinkling it around—a bit at a time— like that flour as we rolled out the dough balls— until, next thing you know, you look up and there is an abundance of testimony!Melanie Talevski
I find myself whispering a prayer.
“God, may you help me sprinkle around truths from your word. In every conversation. During meals, Bedtime. When we rise and when we sleep. May you be sprinkled throughout our day… may your truths be bound on their hearts. Just like the over abundance of flour sprinkled in our kitchen, may your truths be overabundant, sprinkled everywhere in our household. May we gift our children with your presence, your words, your truth that it would not depart from them when they are old (Proverbs 22:6). That, along with their own traditions in the future with their own families, the Truth would continue to ring out, strong, purer than anything else. May that faith legacy– remembering all you have done, dwelling on your truths from the Bible– may that be the tradition we grasp on tightest to. “
So, with one piece of Maznik in a hand and one piece of Zelnik in the other, I call to my children. Let’s talk of our past, our history. Our legacy. And, most importantly, the One who has always been there and always will be.
Until next time,
PS. My husband recommends eating these delicacies with plain yogurt for the authentic Macedonian taste! For American version, dip in spaghetti sauce.