A change in the seasons, the death of life—winter is coming. How appropriate that people of many cultures remember those whom have passed away at this time. Sunday, my family will be placing flowers at the altar in memory of those who are no longer with us. A flower, a graveside visit, a special tradition—how do you and your family remember someone who has passed? How do you celebrate your family history? Does an understanding of your family history affect the way in which you parent?
I have been described as “nostalgic” and as one who “holds on to the past”. But I believe it is our past that shapes us. It helps to define who we are. Do not misunderstand, it is not the past itself that is defining, it is how we handled various situations and how we grew that makes up our character. By understanding the history and background of someone, I am better able to make sense of his actions.
Historic photographs, diary entries, family stories, recipes, newspaper articles, paintings, battered quilts and other treasures are a tangible link to the people from whom I came. Whether it was captaining a ship, immigrating to America, travelling by stagecoach out West or breaking a flight record, it pleases me to know that having a sense of adventure is a family trait. Patriotism, honor and duty, a sense of mischief, a creative nature, a quirky sense of humor are just a few in the genealogy of family traits.
I can see family traits in my children, and they make me smile. I understand why my preschooler has boundless energy and no fear. I understand his yearning to make rules and stand by to make sure that they are followed. I understand my teen’s need to be creative and his yearning to be recognized. I can pick out which traits are age-and-stage related and which will stand the test of time. I know the stumbling blocks that I encountered and those of my parents and grandparents, so I have a sense of what to expect and how to handle certain behaviors. It doesn’t make things less frustrating as a parent, but it does help me to understand the "why".
All Saints Sunday I will take time to remember my family and those whom have gone on. I celebrate them every day by recognizing my heritage and seeing family traits in my children. I honor them by using what I know to try and make our paths just a little easier. They say that “history repeats itself”. I hope that it does, because much of it is a proud one worth repeating.