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.