“Generations pass like leaves fall from our family tree. Each season new life blossoms and grows benefiting from the strength and experience of those who went before.” Heidi Swapp.
You know the generation I’m talking about. The one you find yourself in when your parents are gone. When you are now the matriarch or patriarch of the family. If the natural order of life works out, you’ll be the next ones to go to heaven. It seems to have happened so quickly to Steve and me, and it’s been especially telling as this holiday season rolled around.
I can remember when my brother, sister and I were the ones waking up before daylight on Christmas morning, clamoring to see what Santa brought. One that stands out in my mind is the time when Santa left me a small record player and included only ONE record. I wonder just how many times the group heard “Johnny Had an Apple on a Stick” that morning. 🙂 And it seemed we always had sacks full of tangerines, nuts and orange slice candies – a tradition my mother (a.k.a. Santa) perpetuated. Then, there was the year I got my bicycle. Unforgettable times, full of wonder and presents galore. From my earliest memories, Christmas night was spent gathered with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents — what we referred to as Rose Christmas because my mother’s maiden name was Rose. My Grandmother Rose’s dressing and her coconut cakes were eagerly anticipated, and I loved getting a bright shiny silver dollar from my Granddaddy Rose. It was a musical bunch of people, and once I became proficient enough at the piano, I was the one who played the carols while everyone sang.
“In every conceivable manner, family is the link to our past, bridge to our future.” Alex Haley
Then in the blink of an eye Steve and I were the parents making Christmas magic for our own three children. He often hid their presents at his veterinary clinic and made the trip to retrieve them after they went to bed on Christmas Eve night. We’d get busy assembling, wrapping, arranging under the tree and barely be able to grab a few hours of sleep before we heard the “pitter-patter of little feet” whispering excitedly and making enough noise to arouse anyone who was still napping. We had our own family rituals: we all went into the den to see the Christmas tree together and opened the presents in an order — some years youngest to oldest, other years oldest to youngest. And, since we wanted to include the grandparents in the merriment, we started the habit of Christmas morning brunch, complete with recipes we came to enjoy and expect. Still, we gathered for Rose Christmas on Christmas night as the group grew larger and larger, and our kids had a passel of their own cousins with whom to play and exchange gifts.
Now, with the passage of time that still leaves me mystified and almost unbelieving, our CHILDREN are the ones creating the Christmas atmosphere for their own children, and we are the ones invited in for a peek at presents and a chance to share a meal with the giddy grands. At this stage of our lives, we generally have a relaxed, restful Christmas Eve getting plenty of sleep — something that makes me happy and sad simultaneously. The Roses continue to gather on Christmas Night where I have uncles still living who are 85 and 82, and I retain my status as oldest grandchild, although I am also a grandmother to 13 little people. Ebb and flow. The Cycle of Life. Generation to Generation.
Do I wish I could go back to my childhood? No. Do I wish my three children were still living at home under my roof? No. But, do I wish I had relished each stage more completely? Absolutely yes. As I find myself in the matriarch position of the Steve Pearson Family, I believe my job is to pass on the important lessons of my life to this present generation. And, just maybe, they will take the best of those lessons to pass on down the line. I hope you hear both my sigh, my feeling of responsibility and my sense of gratitude.
Deuteronomy 4:9 “Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your children’s children.”
Deuteronomy 32:7 “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Happy New Year, Everyone!