Written by: Shannon Combs-Bennett
Many people, the world over, partake in various celebrations this time of year. They may be religious or secular celebrations but the common theme to them is love and family.
Even if there is no snow for you in December and even if New Year’s will be on a sandy beach instead of in the snow, you will more than likely share this time of year in some way with people who are close to you.
Growing up my family had many traditions from who sat where to passing over the carving duties to the next oldest in line. I always find myself reminiscing back to those past gatherings, thinking about those who are now no longer with us, and smiling.
My heart my break on occasion, but boy do I have memories and stories to share. And these memories are always brought forward more when I, my husband, and our children put up the tree in our home.
You see, I have a special box of ornaments that mean the world to me. They were the ones I hung with my grandmother on her tree every year I was home.
Mainly handmade, there are a few store bought ornaments thrown in. But each one has a memory, a story, and a special place in my heart. My kids have their favorites that they MUST hang on the tree.
I have mine too, like the ceramic mouse in a stocking that grandma and I painted one year to put as gift tags on everyone’s presents.
Somewhere along the way we started our own tradition. To be honest it was probably me, because I am a sucker for things.
From our first year of marriage on to today there is an ornament purchased for each person. Our first year I purchased ornaments of our favorite Looney Tunes Characters. With each child they received their first year ornaments. Sometimes they were ornaments that reflected a big accomplishment that year. Or, like this year, they are for the big blockbuster movie coming out.
And now our tree is beginning to tell our story.
Sprinkled in are the ornaments my children brought home from pre-school and elementary school. Some falling apart from “over love,” but I insist we hang them still.
Many times I make them compare their hands now to the tiny ones on the bulb they are hanging. I always swear it is the dust that makes me tear up as they remember that grade, teacher, or funny moment that happened.
What is important to remember is that we are building memories. Each year, with each ornament and each conversation, I am not only passing on my family history…but building on it as well.
And I truly hope that they will continue to build on to my stories with their own children and grandchildren. What a better way to share a memory than through stories?
This holiday, and all seasons forward, I hope you will take the time to tell your own stories. Make sure to ask the older generations in your life to tell you stories too. Trust me, it will make their day!
Shannon Combs-Bennett is the Creative Director for The In-Depth Genealogist and Education Chair for NextGen Genealogy Network. She writes and lectures on a variety of topics from genetics to methodology and is contributor to Family Tree Magazine / University.