A few years back, my father started a tradition of presenting each of his seven children with a letter on Christmas Eve, highlighting significant events in that child’s year as well as in his own. It’s such a treat when we are all beckoned to the dining room to receive our letters. He passes them out one by one, and we each sit, silently, reading them. The joy and pride on his face as he hands them out is gift enough, and then we get to re-live the past year through his eyes. This tradition has come to be something I so look forward to each year.
Last year, Dad decided to kick it up a notch. With his letter, he also included an account of his life up until he left the service at the age of 22. How incredible to read about his life and experiences as a young man. From his being born as a blue baby at home and needing to be put in the oven in lieu of an incubator to his time in Korea while serving in the Air Force, few greater gifts can a child receive. It’s easy to not think about your parents’ lives before they had kids – you mean they used to be teenagers, too? But, now that I’ve gotten a glimpse into my Dad’s life early on, I’m hungry for more.
His plan is to add to the story each Christmas, but I sure don’t want to wait until then. So, Dad, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), I want more, more, more! Soon, soon, soon! And you, too, Mom. Don’t think I’m letting you off the hook! What was your life like at 7 years old? 16 years old? 20?
My parents recently celebrated 50 years of marriage – quite an incredible feat. I’ve loved seeing who they are evolve and change over the years, and now I’m excited to be able to learn about them pre-me!
So, for all you parents out there, give your kids and grandkids the story of you. Don’t fool yourself by questioning if anyone really wants to hear your story. They do. We do. I do.
Here are my parents with their 14 grandchildren: