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Memorial Day – And A Special Gift

Memorial Day around our house typically involves one of the following events: cookout, traveling (usually from a grandparents’ house), swimming, fishing or visiting.  Sometimes, it includes all of these.  Those are the best Memorial Days.

Being a day set aside to remember those who have given their lives for the freedom of our country, Memorial Day holds a special place in my family’s circle.  I have several relatives who have served – uncles, cousins, aunts – and family members who are now gone but were an integral part of different events in history, such as my grandfathers and even further back from that.

After writing about creating a family tree last week, I found an alternative to my idea that is a wonderful way to honor our family on Memorial Day.  Create a photo collage family tree!  Instead of simply writing names and birthdates upon leaves of the tree, add photos of each family member.  It is a wonderful gift to give to a family member, and it is also a super way to keep your younger children in touch with relatives who might not be close by.  The poster can be laminated to protect it from fingers and spills.  This would also be an excellent project to do as a family (especially if the weather turns yucky and you are desperately looking for some indoor fun with the kids!).

Make Memorial Day a time to focus on your family…where you’ve been and where you’re going.

Letters to Travis

My mother-in-law started a project almost 8 years ago that has evolved into an Event each August.  She hand-wrote a letter to her first-born grandson, my son, Travis. 

The letter was a recap of events from his first year and her thoughts and feelings for him.  It ended up being two full pages by the time she finished, transcribed onto some beautiful paper and placed in sheet protectors in a binder.  We placed the binder on the bookshelf in his room, a treasure among his treasures.

Each year, my mother-in-law slips a letter into his binder, a reflection of his year, the feelings she has for him, and the hope she has for him in the ages to come.  Each year, a letter on one or two pages, lovingly written and placed in the binder.  And each year, I sit down and read the letters, from beginning to end, marveling at the growth of my child and the amazing relationship he has with his grandmother.

Composing a letter to a child each year is a small gift with insurmountable meaning.  It is a treasure and a keepsake, a reflection of the past and a hope for the future.  Start a letter binder for that special child in your life.

Consider stepping it up a bit and binding the letters into a book!

Sharing Your Past

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I took our sons for a little day trip.  We took a leisurely drive through the Texas Hill Country to the place where it all started, our college alma mater.  It was Homecoming weekend, and even though it wasn’t a time-honored reunion year for us, we still felt compelled to go, enjoy the picnic lunch and once again walk our boys around the same grounds that my husband and I met each other.

We do this every year.  We load up the boys on a Saturday morning, take a drive up the NAFTA Highway, and spend the day at a tiny college.  The boys love it.  The grounds are beautiful, there is plenty of room to run and play, we always manage to get there “just in time” for the parade, and lunch is always delicious.  But, it is the little conversations that we share with our children that make the day special.  It is here that we walk around the same buildings, the same trees, and the same streets that we did, oh, 16 years ago.  And while we walk, we talk.

“Remember that Volkswagon Microbus that guy Matt drove?  And it would only go in reverse?”

“Oh look!  This was my mailbox for four years!”

“Man, I spent many a night supervising that dorm floor.”

“Do you remember the Great Pie War?  That was a blast.”

“Look!  Now they have a REAL Frisbee golf  course!  No more making up your own!”

Our boys love it.  They get a glimpse into the past – THEIR past.  This college is where my husband and I met (and dated and broke up and dated and broke up), where we made our lifelong friends, where we determined the course of our future.  They ask us questions, such as “What’s that building?” or “Where did you eat/sleep/study/watch TV?”  or “How come there are so many crickets here?”  And, we are happy to answer those questions.

It is a way of sharing our family history.  OUR family history.  The boys look forward to this pilgrimage every year.  It is a day we spend sharing tidbits of our past with them.  I encourage you to do something of the like.  It doesn’t have to be a college homecoming or a reunion of any formal kind, but find a place that is special to your family and share it with your children.  Spend a day exploring and remembering a time gone by, a time before the kids came.  It is the stuff memories are made of.

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