I took a holiday from writing about ancestors for this week so that I can spend the time preparing for Christmas. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, but most people have something to celebrate this time of year.
I have gathered information about my ancestors for many years. As I recently looked through the files, binders, photos, CDs and various other ephemera, I found that it really did not tell me about the people and how they lived. One reason I am motivated to write this blog is find and give voice to their stories. What about our stories? Why does one family always make a particular cookie to share or serve a particular dish or attend Christmas Eve service while another goes skating or builds bonfires? If we search back far enough, we can find the answers to some of those questions. Others are lost to time.
My call to action for you this Christmas is to not only share your family traditions, but share where they came from. Few people want to hear, “in my day…” but grandparents or elders can bring their favorite board game. While you play, share the stories of which siblings argued over the game, because arguing siblings are universal. Offer to take the kids for an afternoon or evening. Bring them into the kitchen for a baking lesson of how to make mom or dad’s favorite cookie to add to the platter of goodies, or make the cookies and let the kids decorate them. Maybe the favorite is the store bought ones dipped in chocolate! The point is not the cookie, it’s the sharing. They may want to even wrap them for a special gift. Maybe your tradition is attending a religious service as a family, serving a meal at the local shelter, playing a game of ice hockey together or just taking a walk after dinner. We all have family traditions. By sharing the why of our traditions, children learn that they too are a part of the family story with their own part to play. Someday we will be the ancestors. Will our descendants still get an orange in their stocking? Will the tree be covered in candy canes on Christmas morning? Will they attend candlelight service at the local church? They will if we share the why.
I sincerely wish A Merry Christmas to you and your families…and don’t forget, the oldest gets the first piece of sushi!