Christmas weekend we had my husband’s extended family here for dinner. More than thirty people, including 2 newborns and the oldest member of the family, the 93 year old aunt, arrived the day after Christmas to celebrate family.
After a big meal of roast beef, ham and all the fixings we sat around the living room in a big circle while the two oldest members of the family told stories about their history. Most everyone, except the little kids playing with new toys, listened and asked questions about what it was like to grow up on a cold, rural Minnesota farm more than 80 years ago. Though my husband and I have heard many of these stories before most of the younger generation, those we only see once a year, have never heard them. One of the young fathers videoed the discussion because we all realize as family members get older our chances to hear these stories first hand become more rare.
So this holiday weekend we prompted them – drawing out the stories that made us laugh, made us think, made us grateful for the lives we have now. It was a magical evening, one we’re lucky to have shared.
And as I watched my husband’s aunt that evening I wondered what it felt like to be 93 and spending an evening with young people and their even younger children. What does it feel like to have 93 years of history in your head? Are you wistful when you hold a newborn? Are you transported in time when you watch a toddler more entranced with the box than the new toy he unwrapped? Are you memorizing new memories or are you overwhelmed with thoughts of times gone by?
When the youngsters became too tired to play and started to head out for home, they each gave the eldest among us a hug. Four generations sitting in one room telling stories, laughing, talking, remembering. A special evening during a special weekend with special people. Priceless.
January 6, 2011 at 2:06 am
That’s the word – “priceless”.
January 6, 2011 at 2:10 am
A precious moment with the family members is always sweet and unforgettable.
I love to have my family members around, telling stories, cracking jokes and having some good laughs. It’s a moment that everyone is around and be with each other, it is the presence of everyone which warms each other’s heart, to remember and to be remembered.
January 6, 2011 at 5:50 am
January 6, 2011 at 6:02 am
What a wonderful idea to video tape, and archive some of your family’s story. I would have loved to have a seat in your living room.
4 generations together! Amazing!
January 6, 2011 at 6:23 am
To have so many family members together like that is wonderful!
January 6, 2011 at 8:54 am
A priceless evening, indeed, of old and, for you, new memories. Good idea to record the old ones telling their stories. If someone has the time, it would be good to transcribe them, too, and put the hard copy in a safe place, since as far as I know paper is still the most durable storage medium.
January 6, 2011 at 10:12 am
For someone who has no family here in the USA, it was wonderful to read your posting. I do have some aunts and uncles somewhere in the world….but I have never met them and have missed out on all the stories they knew. I think it was wonderful to video chronicle your families memories – what a great keepsake.
January 6, 2011 at 11:45 am
The video will be priceless. We had some friends that videoed my grandparents years ago, and we watched it after they had passed away. There were so many things….little mannerisms, along with the old familiar stories that just came flooding back. It was really cool!
January 6, 2011 at 11:55 am
Now that’s the very meaning of holiday season to me! Sharing with family. Beautiful.
January 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm
One of my most treasured keepsakes is a recording of my grandmother meeting her grandson, age 2, for the first time. She sang to him in Swedish, she told him stories, she laughed at his antics. It was a lovely time. (Gram also grew up in rural Minnesota, near Maple Plain. If you have any Molines or Hystedts in your family tree we should talk!)
January 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm
Priceless indeed! As I’ve gotten older I find that I very much regret not knowing more about my family’s history, wishing I had asked questions of my parents when I could. I’ve done a little research and have put together a couple of albums with photos and the few facts I have, but that is such a little part of it. This has made me diligent, almost fanatical, about doing books of photos and comments about my kids young lives and our lives now so they’ll never have those questions.
January 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm
Gerry, I don’t think we do, but I’ll Uncle Warren when he gets back from Florida. Carol, don’t make yourself guilty…they’ll always have questions, no matter how much you document! 🙂
January 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm
Sounds like a great holiday-one full of the true meaning of the holidays 😉 Kathy
January 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm
Love the image of your family sitting in a circle, listening to stories that will probably be retold for years to come. My grandmother, who turns 103 this summer, lived a wildly different life from my own. It’s really a treasure to have those memories archived!
January 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm
The perfect word is PRICELESS!