This time of year has many people flooded with memories of the past. It’s a time when past and present meet. You pull out ancestral things that bring a sense of time and tradition. You bring these things out from the past and add them to the present moment.
In my dining room, I have an area where I keep photos of a some of my ancestors – my family and that of my husband’s as well. They line the wall and shelves and all the photos grab me. Photos of grandparent’s weddings, my husband’s grandfather and uncle, my great grandfather’s bicycle shop, great grandparent’s confirmation photos, my great aunt who died at twelve and the only photo of her. On these shelves there is one particular photo that always catches my gaze just a little bit more than the others, a photo of my grandfather’s mother – Grandma Fanny. I have noticed it before, she looks so much like me. I see my face in hers. I came from her. She is there with her small children clamped to her side looking at the camera waiting for the film to develop into this one picture. This picture that was carried through the years, carried across countries, held lovingly and passed along until it found its way to me. I look so much like her (her great-granddaughter). I am like her, a mother, cook, home-maker. I wonder what her dreams and yearnings were. Did she crochet, embroider or knit? What did she do in her free time? Did she have any of the same loves as me? She died very young. My grandfather was only 4 years old so he was not able to share any memories of her with us. There is no one who can share these little personal details about her. I can only imagination all the answers to these questions..
As with many others, the holiday season always causes me to contemplate my ancestors. I am reminded of many holidays spent with my paternal grandmother, Norma. She loved to cook, and the dishes she created were always prepared with so much love and care. I am reminded of how she spent hours creating special meals especially for us. The love she poured into the food. I have wonderful memories of the whole family around the table. Now most of those people have passed on only to live in my memories. My cousins and I now bring our family together. It’s important. We are the last to remember that table from my early childhood.
We celebrate our grandparents and our mothers and our fathers and all those who came before us when we all come together at the table. They would have wanted us to. They would be comforted, I hope, that we still come together. The recipes have changed but the feelings are still the same. We are trying to pass it on to our children. They are too small to remember all the people we do. All the past family and their gregarious laughter and loud voices at the table. The liver knishes or the chicken noodle soup, but by coming together we are passing it on in some way.
I have some of my grandmother’s china and some of her glasses too. I have a ceramic jar from her that I keep odds and ends in that I remember playing with when I was a child. I remember the little things that my grandmother did for me. She always served me cantaloupe and home made chicken noodle soup. She was the one to give me my first pomegranate and Pina Colada. I remember her sewing – watching her sew for hours, her creative talents, her interest in embroidery and crochet. I know that, just like grandma Norma, my great grandma Fanny would have just as many wonderful things to share with me if she had had the chance.
Here I am, very happily enjoying the sun streaming in, listening to wonderful music, sewing and thinking of grandma and great grandma. Thank you for teaching me to sew, embroider, cook, love color and a good Pina Colada . I know a piece of you is in me, making me the artist I am. Thank you!