We may not know the author of this quote, but the poignancy is undeniably relatable for all of us. Moments. I close my eyes and remember holding my newborn as his little hand squeezed around my finger. A first smile. Treasuring the most amazing crayon drawing ever created. Family gatherings at holidays when differences are put aside, or sometimes embraced! These memories are all so precious, but as we know, time moves so quickly and memories fade. So, how can we hold on to some of these family memories and encourage interaction between the generations in our families?
Research Family Roots
Usually around third grade, students are asked to create a family tree. For a lot of kids this is the very first time they truly search and talk about their roots, and so it becomes a conversational involvement for the whole family. You might look up your family’s name and find a ‘family crest’ that your child could copy as part of the project. (That would be fun to frame!) Tracing ancestors and completing this school assignment will provide insight to our past, and the research process itself becomes a wonderful memory of shared time.
This summer my daughter will be sixteen, and we are taking her toManchester,England, to the town ofDerby, where my mother was raised. We will also take her to the church where my parents were married. Although small in structure, the architecture of this old church is amazing. The last time I was there I took many photos, and look forward to seeing this building again with my daughter and comparing the new memories to those from the photographs.
Gather Photographs, Recollections
Scrapbooking can be a fun and artistic way to capture these family memories, preserve a glimpse into the past, and create intergenerational family interactions. Putting together pages of memories is fun for all ages and generations. I began a scrapbook with my mother-in-law when she was young enough to remember and tell the stories of pictures. Underneath the photos we wrote her memories of the moment. As we listened, she became young again when reminiscing about her life. Now, at 101 years of age, her recollections have faded a bit, but her spirit is still strikingly there as is the grip of her hand not to let go, being as tight as that little hand of a baby. If you’re like me and take a lot of photos (can you ever have too many?), have your children help you create a family wall. Scan and print old family photos or use current ones (maybe try sepia for a beautiful effect). Use a collection of inexpensive frames and gather the family photos in one place. Let children help pick their favorites and decide on an arrangement – and enjoy the time spent reminiscing about the photos. I remember sitting under a cherry tree when the wind blew and the leaves seemed to all float down at once. It was an incredibly beautiful vision of pink and white, and on that lovely spring day Grandma said with a smile and a twinkle in her eyes, “Oh look, it’s snowing!” We remember that so well because of photos my young daughter had taken that day.
In 1969, my family moved to a house in a very picturesque town inConnecticut. Surrounding one side of the house was a huge stone wall built in 1869, and so we decided to mark the wall’s 100th birthday by throwing it a party! Silly, but fun! To attend, guests had to bring a special stone from home or travels to help create a new plant and rock garden. Years later, as my family, now with three children of my own, prepared for our move fromLong Island,New York, toCharleston,South Carolina, we borrowed the idea and had a similar party. Friends brought rocks; some just signed and dated them, but many of them were painted. We now have them in our garden as we smile and think about our friends far away. My sister-in-law collects small stones from her travels around the world and displays them all in a tall glass vase. Larger rocks can be washed off at home and given a personality by painting them with acrylic paints for a fun craft. Put some felt on the bottom and give it a gloss coating and you’ve got a beautifully preserved reminder of a special time and place.
Moments Quickly Become Memories
However you choose to preserve those moments that become memories, remember that time passes very quickly and it’s really the little things that will mean the most one day. Have fun creating your own family memories and take the time to value the moment. The love, compassion, and wisdom you display will be your legacy.
Andrea Seiderman is a commissioned artist and teacher who lives in Charleston, S.C. She enjoys frequent trips to the ocean with her family to enjoy sights, scents and sounds that inspire her art.