Call me old fashioned, but I love sitting with those from generations before me and hear their stories of back in the day.
Stories of life as they knew it, recreated from the keepsakes of their memory.
I capture their smiles as they step back in the day; noting the details which rewind an old fashioned movie.
I regret not inquiring more of the family history when both sets of my grandparents still took their seat around the holiday dinner table.
All those questions I regret not asking, whose answers went with them sadly unanswered to the grave.
“Tell me about life as a child and teenager back in the day?”
“What were your dreams and hopes back in the day?”
“What can we learn from your life back in the day?”
“Did you really walk a mile to school in knee deep snow? Mom said you did.”
“Tell me about your morning chores before school.”
“Who milked the cow, who gathered the eggs, who helped mother in the kitchen?”
Of course, the “event decorator I am” sits on the edge of anticipation to hear about their wedding back in the day; hoping for pictures collecting dust in an old closet box.
These conversations paint a portrait of life changing from generation to generation.
The intimacy of handwritten letters sent back and forth between two hearts in love.
Grandmother’s old fashioned recipes with grease and flour still remaining from hands which once referred to them in the kitchen.
Both now a novelty replaced with technology.
The simpler life of family togetherness now stuck in the traffic jams of busyness.
During these times when you long for quiet, when you wish for a few minutes of the good old days; you reminisce the stories which take you back to life with your grandparents and great-grandparents and even your mother and father.
It’s so important to glean in the fields of their stories, to be a witness to their life and gather the fruit of history and legacy, your inheritance worth more and valued higher than earthly dollars.
Lean in close to the simplest of details from the generations of family as these pages written from their life will become those memories you save into the keepsakes of your memory, the legacy you pass to your children one day.
Walk a mile in their shoes, their steps back in the day. Those history lessons which hold the generations together, if we dare to protect these stories from the sun of time which dares to fade them.
We have so much to learn from each other.
We need not be stuck in our own ways, unteachable to learn “what’s already been” from the past or “what is possible” in the present; or hope for the future.
Be willing to take your basket and start gathering.
Reach for the abundance of wisdom, their Godly influence, and hidden fruit of their lives which still waits to be picked.
You must be intentional to do your part and gather.
The next generation depends on you entering the fields of back in their day.
Yes, call me old fashioned, but I love sitting with those from generations before me and hear their stories of back in the day, especially when they’re stories about my mother.
Talking about her, reminiscing and re-living these stories keep her alive in my heart, even though she left her earthly home a year and a half ago.
Now that I am the living grandmother, I get the privilege of repeating my stories you’ve heard once or twice before as my grandparents once did.
Stories which journey back when all my siblings still lived at the same address on Fox River Rd.
Stories which refresh my life while stuck in the traffic jam of busyness.
A story about my mother.
SUMMER IN A JAR
By Lori A. Alicea
With family vacations, summer sports and fairs coming to town, you might not have noticed that Christmas has snuck in the back door of some stores, sounding the alarm that winter is around the corner. By the time most of us are snuggling up in that first sweater, we might be asking ourselves, “Where did the summer go?” For those who’d like to hold onto summer a little longer, did you know it’s possible to capture the essence of this season in a bottle, labeling it “summer in a jar?”
Growing up, backyard gardens, cornfields and fruit markets were common neighborhood sights.
With breezes carrying them in, the smells of summer welcomed itself through open windows, evident in the slight waves of the curtains.
Strawberries, peaches, apples and grapes, all waiting for someone to take them home from the fruit market down the street. As a little girl the aroma of this seasonal shop was so delicious, fruit juices could be tasted just by breathing.
Mother would buy these farmer spoils by the flat, bushel and bucket, bringing them home to create jams, jellies and frozen fruit for future homemade pies.
The pantry off from the kitchen displayed my mother’s mid-year labors, as I fantasized over them in the winter pretending they were “summer in a jar”.
From June through August, we five sisters helped mother prepare fruit for her signature jams, giving into temptation to eat more fruit than we prepared. Though our mouths revealed the sticky evidence of our crime, mother didn’t scold us, rather kept focused as she boiled fruit on her Magic Chef stove. Still boiling hot, blue Mason jars were filled then sealed with melted paraffin wax. Mother’s creations eventually lined the pantry shelves when they cooled, waiting for winter to come.
It’s hard to appreciate kitchen art when the thermostat reads above 90 degrees. But light the fireplace one frosty December morning, and top a fresh baked biscuit smothered in butter with homemade jam, those early hours might usher in a smell of summer with fruit so fresh you’d think they were recently picked.
As an adult, I am saddened that subdivisions have taken over the neighborhood, leaving farmer fields a figment of my imagination. Kitchen curtains don’t fly in the wind of open windows as air conditioners keep them closed. Fruit markets are a novelty now, canning isn’t a way of life, and out of five sisters, I’m the only one that cans, bakes bread and finds pleasure in homemade anything.
But as for me, my homemade effort’s brings back time with mom and memories of yesterday, when I go the extra mile to see my shelves full of “summer in a jar”.