25 Days of Christmas Fun: Make Memories to Pass Along…..


We’ve been filling up the days leading to Christmas with crafts and recipes – but tonight’s post is a little different…

(Jamie here)  This Christmas season has been a bittersweet one for me.  My Papaw died this week, and I travelled back to Kentucky to be with my mom, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the whole cast of characters that set the stage of our other, happier, family gatherings for so many years.  After the funeral, we congregated at Nanny & Papaw’s house to share food and memories and comforting words together – which brings me to tonight’s topic: Making memories to pass along.

As the grownups (Yes, I still refer to my aunts and uncles as the “grown-ups” at the ripe old age of 31) sat around the table talking, we “kids” made our way to the musty old basement to look around.  We group of cousins, ranging in age from 18 – 31, remember the glory days of Nanny & Papaw’s house gatherings with varying degrees of clarity.  I was the oldest – so I held the clearest picture of those happy Christmases and New Years Eves – the many Thanksgivings and Easters spent playing croquet in the front yard, the dark wood-paneled closet that held the same toys year after year to be pulled, wound-up, built and chewed-upon by an increasing line of toddlers and adolescents.

We pulled out the whistling choo-choo train, the ancient dusty See-n-Say, the Tinker Toys and dollhouse.  Each cousin claimed a small bit of nostalgia for their own, to take home and tuck away – but I hadn’t found my special something yet.  Finally, on a metal shelf behind an ice bucket, I found it – the nutcracker bowl.  It was nothing of value, a simple wooden bowl with a large screw affixed to the top for cracking nuts – and yet it instantly yanked me back to dozens of Christmases spent standing at Nanny & Papaw’s table cracking the shells of walnuts and pecans.  I held it up like a prize, remembering my uncle Steve or my uncle Kenny (both now deceased) placing the nut in it’s cradle just so and teaching me how to use the contraption.  It brought back the happy hubbub of a large family gathered around me, the hugs and laughter, the excitement of the holiday and the sleepy contentment of being packed back into our station wagon at the end of the night.

Now accutely aware of the loss of that halcyon time, I tucked the nutcracker into my car to bring back to my home in Tennessee.  I will fill it with nuts this year, and teach the kids how to turn the screw until they crack open.  I will undoubtedly reminisce about Christmases gone by, and the family gone by, bright lights that illuminated my path from childhood to adulthood.

These little things – these insignificant decorations that are brought out for special family occasions – are touchstones of memories.  This week reminded me of that, and I wanted to remind you as well.  When faces and voices of the past begin to fade, little treasures like this can evoke them as clearly and brightly as ever.  Hand them down to your children, give them the gift of a family heirloom (be it ever so humble) so that one day they too can dig it out of a basement smelling so comfortingly of damp earth, cigarettes, and laundry soap, and hold onto it forever…


  1. Kathy says

    Made me cry, too. I can really relate to your feelings….we buried my precious, godly grandmother on a Christmas Eve. It was so bittersweet…….missing her…..but just knowing that she would be with her Lord on HIS birthday…made it sweet! Will be praying for you and all your family.

    • Jamie says

      Thank you all so much for your prayers and sweet comments – I’m happy knowing he’s out of pain and with Nanny & Jesus now :)

  2. says

    Jamie, I’m so sorry for your loss. However, i’m so excited for the memories you were able to reminice and bring home a treasure to pass on and enjoy. Merry Christmas. Prayers are with you and your family.

  3. Nancy says

    So sorry for your loss, experienced the loss of my dad in August and even though its such a difficult time, Dad is in our minds and thoughts in all we do. I even hear myself saying things my dad used to say and always brings a laugh or a smile.

    Your memories are yours forever, something that will never go away. What a great story you’ve shared with all.

    Blessings to you.

  4. keri says

    Such a beautiful story. It made me cry. I am very sorry of your loss. Memories are the one thing that can never be taken away from us!

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