Old photograph books, lamp from a coal miner, jewelry, baby teeth, framed photos
jewelry with hand written notes, pictures of homes from the 1900’s, old coins
MY FAVORITE THINGS
My children still smile when they are sick, or sad and I break into song with “My Favorite Things”-a favorite tune from The Sound Of Music. Though girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes and snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes conjure up fond memories from child hood, they are no where near as dear to me as my “favorite things”.
I remind readers that the prompt for this article stated to tell about your “Favorite THING”, not person, however my favorite thing is my collection of genealogy books with old photographs from hundreds of family members, the houses they lived in, the cars they drove, the many small memories that tell the story of their lives.
My maternal grandparents lived into their 90’s and with their help, I was able to identify countless family photos that no one had bothered to label. The tears of thanks, when we were able to tell a cousin that the sepia-toned photo they had found in the worn pages of the family Bible was that of their grandparents, and the model T in the photo was the family’s first car.
My collection grew over the years as I became known as the family historian. I have hundred of pictures, court documents, copies of Bible pages, letters, school awards, even a lock of hair. I know the whereabouts of many family treasures, such as military documents, uniforms, guns, engraved plates, a piece of jewelry passed down for generations.
I spent hours with my grandparents and other elders , including those of my husband’s family, and learned details of their lives that would have been lost if someone hadn’t cared enough to both ask about them and be willing to share them. One of the greatest honors I have had was when an elderly relative spoke to me with trembling voice and hopeful eyes dimmed by time; “Do you remember Aunt Emily?” and though Aunt Emily died generations before I was born, I could say, “I didn’t know her, but I know a little about her and I just may have her picture in my books.”
I wrote an article called “Legacy” in response to a prompt and felt myself struggling to keep the story to a reasonable length. In that regard, I will try to simply stress how to create a “favorite thing“ for coming generations. Put a note with Aunt Emily’s necklace that says, “Aunt Emily’s daughter, Irene, gave me this when I got married. Label your pictures and any item that future generations may hold dear. A watch in a drawer may bring up questions as to who it belonged to, but a watch in a drawer with a note in your grandfathers handwriting that says it belonged to his grandfather will bring tears to your eyes.
Go ahead a be a pest and ask your elders for their stories. Most of them long to share them. Take pictures of family groups and label them.. Be willing to copy photos, letters or documents and share them.
My favorite thing is not only the physical possession of the family history items, it is the memory of how I came into possession of them, the conversations we shared, the looks on the faces of someone who may have thought their lives and experiences didn’t matter anymore. My favorite thing is knowing where my family came from, what they endured, what they left for future generations. I have tried to share this treasure with my relatives of all ages, hoping that someone will pick up the sword and continue sharing our story long after my part in it is merely that I treasured it and passed it on.