One way that we can be remembered by our loved ones is by handing down favorite objects or handmade items to our descendants. For my Christmas blog post, I thought I would write about one of my most favorite items that I have been given. A nativity scene.
The figures in this scene were made by my maternal grandmother, Thelma Mansfield Armstrong Ebert. My grandma was a fantastic craftswoman. She sewed, quilted, painted, crocheted, and later in life loved to work with greenware molds. The manger was crafted by my father, Donald Neil Gillis, who can do anything with a saw and a few nails.
I think the fact that this heirloom was a joint project is why I am so crazy about it.
If I pass this down to my daughter so she can enjoy it with her future family, and one of her children incorporates it into his or her family traditions, who will be around to tell the story of its origins? What I’d like to suggest, today, is that you document the family treasures in your possession and consider providing a written narrative when you pass down gifts to your own loved ones.
Type up the story of who made it, when it was given, a little history about the creator, and what inspired the giving. Save it in a page protector. Digital copies of the narrative are great, but the format will have to be frequently updated.
I recommend this fine example from genealogy blogger Leslie Ann. On her blog “Ancestors Live Here” she provides narrative for a nut bowl that she inherited and includes her own memories surrounding the use of it. That’s what I am talking about. Write it, print it, preserve it, and pass it on!
Since our daughter was born, we have been giving her an ornament each Christmas. One year, I decided to provide with the ornament a written list of all of the ornaments she had received thus far with the date and reason for each selection. I printed that document and put in in a clear sleeve for safekeeping. It will stay with her ornament collection, a collection that provides a pictorial history of her young life.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and don’t forget that while you are preserving your family treasures, you should document and narrate them, as well. Your descendants will appreciate and remember you!
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