“A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hmán, as if pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing.”-C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
At an early age, the girls began asking for Mike and I to tell them about our childhood. It is human nature to want to connect with other’s past experiences. The girls wanted to know what life was like when we were young. They wanted to hear how we wrestled with our siblings, had normal struggles with friendships, what we did for fun, and how we could survive without cell phones.
The family stories that we pass down to our children help them to see us as optimistic, problem solvers, and overcomers. Stories anchor our family on hope. A story worth retelling usually has a problem, a hero, and hope. When life gives us a lemon, it is the act of remembering the hope restored in stories of overcoming that prompts us to make lemonade.
hiking in Estes park
One story that my girls love to hear from my growing up years is about hiking in Estes Park, Colorado. Like all good family stories, they are best told when all the participants are sitting in the same room so they can each throw in their perspective from the memory. This is my favorite part of family holidays. I am sure I won’t do the story justice, but I will hit the high points.
My family drove out to Colorado for our summer vacation in 1997. Our goal for this day was to hike Twin Sisters Trail which is 3.6 miles that is described as intermediate to difficult. No worries, we had fanny packs, light sweatshirts, and maybe a few teens still in pj pants. The ranger at the trailhead kindly told us about a mountain lion attack less than a week prior and that it does get colder as you climb higher in elevation.
Nothing stops this family, so up the trail we go. My sister and I figured as long as we were noisy we didn’t need to worry about an animal attack so we just kept the noise level up. It didn’t take long for rain to start but my parents were prepared as they pulled out black trash bags and instructed us to just put holes in them for our heads.
As we neared the tree line, the rain had turned to snow. At this point three of us kids were done, we were cold, wet, and afraid we would lose the trail. However, there is always that one sibling that must accomplish the task. My mom decided to stay with the three younger kids as my dad and older brother trekked on. After waiting at the tree line for what felt like hours, we started back down the mountain. Eventually, the guys caught up with us and we made it back to the van still intact.
That day we all overcame multiple obstacles, pushed ourselves further than we thought we could go, laughed at our unpreparedness, and cried about the path that lay ahead. That is life in a nutshell. Stories help us see a way forward.
Cairns are stacks of rocks that can be seen on an unmarked hiking trail. The cairns mark the right path so one does not get lost on their way back down the trail. Mike & I have modified this practice by using rocks to help us remember times in our lives where we can see God’s hand.
In the midst of difficulty, it reassuring to know that there is nothing new that we are experiencing that others haven’t experienced before.
Some cairns in our family life are:
- Moving to WI
- Selling our home in CO
- Buying our home in IL
- Job changes
- Selling our business
Knowing these times were particularly trying and yet so much better on the other side gives me hope when the next mountain is presented.
My mother started the practice of scrapbooking our family pictures when I was young. It is fun to look back at all the good times and remember what experiences and which people touched my life.
I want each of my girls to have scrapbooks that remind them what is important, who they are and who loves them. When I first started scrapbooking, I would craft each page by cutting, pasting, and decorating them. Now, I use Shutterfly to make scrapbooks. Shutterfly makes it quick and easy to organize the pictures, write in captions, and personalize the book for each of the girls.
On any given weekend you will find our family remembering. We will be flipping through scrapbooks or sitting by the fireplace exchanging stories. This cultivates closeness to one another and brings joy to our home.
How does your family pass down stories?
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