As the holiday season comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on how important it is to talk with the ones we love about family and friends who have passed. Telling stories and remembering the people that are missing can be bittersweet, it’s true; but, for those of us who knew them, it keeps their memories alive. It’s also a way to build and reinforce intergenerational ties, ensuring that our children and grandchildren remember these wonderful people too, even if the younger generation didn’t have the chance to know them.
The holidays, with their visits home and with relatives, can cause us to feel nostalgic. Instead of resisting it, I share my memories with my kids and grandchildren. It is truly beautiful to hear them share their memories as well! When I visited my sons over Christmas, numerous stories were told about my daughter; the memories of her sixteen years with us have great value to us all. When my grandchildren were running about the house playing hide-and-seek, I recalled my own three children doing the same thing many years before. As the oldest, my daughter would help hide her little brothers and then pretend to find them — just like my grandchildren were doing. In telling my son the story, we smiled at the memory.
Later, we all worked together to complete a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle; my four-year-old grandson was diligently trying to make the pieces fit together using a combination of deep concentration and a little hammering with his small fist. His dad assuring him that he was a big help made me think of my grandmother and smile. She was always working on a puzzle and would allow the grandchildren that visited to help her with it. Her encouraging words echoed in my mind. Voicing the memory to my son created a link to a family member that had passed.
I had the pleasure of bunking with that same grandson for three nights. As we were preparing for our first night together, he very excitedly asked me to tell him stories “from my brain.” To him, these are the stories from when his daddy was a little boy and from when I was young. As we cuddled together, I told him stories about the Auntie he would never meet. How beautiful she was and how much she would have loved being an Auntie; stories about camping trips, playing at the park and amazing vacations. My grandson was completely enthralled by the idea that, as a child, his daddy did some of the very same things he does. He listened intently as I told him how his daddy loved the dinosaurs at the museum, the same museum that he goes to now.
My grandson is very proud of the fact that his playschool is at the same school that his daddy went to as a little boy. In fact, I went to that school as a student and was also a teacher there. He loves to hear stories about all of us at that same school, learning just like he is.
So talk, tell stories, share – even write! It’s so important to pass these memories on so that the moments and the people can be remembered for years to come.