Sentiment and ritual surround the month of December. It begins with entering a closet and finding a stack of untouched boxes. We are usually eager to be reacquainted with cherished possessions only enjoyed during the season of Christmas. During the process of unearthing each carefully wrapped item, specific places and beloved people call forth the stories out of a frozen remembrance. Individual ornaments, perhaps a porcelain hand-painted tree, or any number of decorations, bring our living and departed loved ones closer. As the need to remember the past crosses into the present, verbal stories are not enough.
With the ease of technology, the process of keeping a journal no longer requires bound notebooks or the need to write daily. Through word documents—perhaps password protected—or through an e-mail account, a journal entry can be a reminder of a special event, occasion, or a great time spent together. Grandparents could begin right now documenting a journal of the family events and accomplished milestones. Imagine the moment when the journal is presented and read!
In the digital world, when a phone can capture the moment, hundreds of images and memories may remain on a phone storage SIM card, not processed. While pictures may be shared or posted on social media, the value of the moment or person assumes a higher level of importance. For families living at a great distance, one of the best gifts is an individual presented on a string board. It is the perfect means to celebrate beloved family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, who rarely have the opportunity to be together.
Tip: Don’t worry if one person in the group does not like the picture due to an unapproved facial expression, outfit, or hairstyle, the person is what matters. Use it!
A celebration of our ancestors through their unique circumstances and history helps the living understand who they are. It begins with one union in marriage, and branches out to include a lineage of families. Genealogy is more than just a name with a date of birth and death. The known stories keep the members of the family alive. It is a life-long endeavor, which requires reaching out to distant relatives to collect information, written stories, and pictures. The task is often similar to finding a needle in a haystack; yet, discovering the tiniest puzzle pieces is indeed thrilling.
Tip: The family genealogy book is not a secret. It must be shared, reviewed, discussed, and passed along. It can be considered a living book as long as one person continues the search, and documents the milestone and events of the living.
Antique furniture and unique heirlooms have a memory-recalling distinct place in the home, even though comfort also is found among the sky and cloud formations, wind, and trees—that is, in nature. In remembering the beloved departed or praying for the living, an ideal place could be marked to start with, perhaps a certain bench. Throughout several seasons and with the help of family, the site could include planted flowers, a vine with trellis or tree, and a hand-designed stone walkway. The goal is to create a gathering place of tranquility and memory.
Day Trips and Long Weekends
Living candidly and memorably requires a personal promise to say “Yes” to group excursions and family gatherings, and to schedule time alone with family members. Whether it is a trip to the beach or mountains, shopping or a Sunday drive, these are the occasions that offer a future story or recall a memory. And of course, there is always room for more!