You have some interesting tidbits about past family members, but not enough information to tell a good story? I think I can help you out with this. Read on!
In a previous blog, I told you about a great website that has suggestions for how to write an ancestor story. I've included the website at the end of this blog. One of the things they suggest is to pick out ONE ancestor and ONE story to tell. Don't try to write about all your ancestors, and even when you pick out just one interesting ancestor, don't try to tell their WHOLE story. But I love their advice: one ancestor, one story.
I loved sitting with my mother when she was still alive, and reminiscing about our youths and childhoods. But I also liked hearing about grandparents (her parents) whom I barely knew. I savored everything she told me. One story that I loved and always wanted to tell was about my great-great grandfather. Mother told me he had been in the Civil War. The information I found so fascinating was that, when the war was over, he had to walk home, and on his way back to Texas, he spent some time in Arkansas. There he met his wife, married, and eventually brought her to Texas. I loved that story! But that was all I knew--those few sketchy details.
Getting more details!
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I was fascinated that the man had to walk home. All the way to Texas. He didn't take the train? I grew up in the 1950's and '60's, and had seen my fill of TV westerns--no stagecoach for him to get a ride? He didn't ride home on a horse? Of course the answer is "no," to all these questions. Those Confederate soldiers walked home. They had a difficult life on the front lines of battle, they had a difficult time getting home, and Reconstruction brought its own set of pain and heartache. I want my children and grandchildren to know this story. To know what their ancestors had to endure.
So it was off to the library for me!
What I discovered!
First of all, the Union soldiers had a little easier time of it. Not easy you realize, just easier. After all, they won the war, and they had a government in place. There was a system to address the mustering-out of Union soldiers. They stayed with their units until they got word to travel to various cities to be mustered out, usually Cincinnati or New York City. And travel included returning to those cities where they had mustered-in, usually via train or water transportation. There they would receive their papers and a paycheck. Then they could return home.
Confederate soldiers didn't have it like that. No official mustering out. No lining up to get paid. No money to travel home by boat or coach. Mostly just that long walk home. If calvary soldiers could prove they had brought their own horse, or had been in the calvary and provided a horse, oftentimes they were allowed to keep the animal. And it's important to remember, they had no government to help out. The Confederacy of America no longer existed. And the U.S. government felt no obligation to help out these soldiers. They simply turned in their weapons, received their parole and walked home.
This photo I copied from the book, Civil War Journal, The Legacies edited by William C. Davis, Brain C. Pohanka and Don Troiani. It's a great reference book on this war.
And that's a story I want to tell.
I can imagine after the war, these men walked home along dusty country roads, either alone or in groups. I'm sure they often stopped in little towns or small farms and looked for work. Perhaps their only pay was to sleep in their barn and get 2-3 meals a day from generous farmers. I'm guessing that's where my great-great grandfather met his wife. This story with these details is one I want to write for my kids.
And that's it! Just flesh out any story you have with some historical background. Do you have an ancestor that was in World War I? Make that trip to the library like I did, and get some background on that war. Have a great-grandparent that lived through the Great Depression? Again, spend an afternoon in your public library! It's fun poring through those big volumes and visiting with the librarians. And speaking of the librarians, one sweet lady told me about a library not far from my home that has a great Confederate soldier research center. I plan to visit!
I just believe telling stories of ancestors is important to our children and grandchildren. They need to know they come from "good stock," and that their forefathers and mothers were strong people and endured many hardships, but came through it all. Now that's a story to tell!
And the website with tips on writing your own ancestor story:
"Individually, every grain of sand brushing against my hands represents a story, an experience, and a block for me to build upon for the next generation." Raquel Cepeda
And this quote from previous blogs about writing about your ancestors...I just love it: "You are the fairy tale told by your ancestors." Toba Beta
I totally agree with the late Barbara Bush. And grandparents play a huge role in this. Let's face it, we have the time to do this. We have time for small love notes, texts, and little heart-to-hearts when they come to visit. There are lots of ways to nurture family relationships, and one I found quite by accident.
A few years ago, I was with my grands and was putting my granddaughters to bed. They always bring me a stack of books to read, and one of them was "Sisters," by David McPhail. As soon as I saw it, I knew we had to do a book about my two granddaughters and their sisterly relationship. I think we started the interview process that night. I'm sure you can guess the premise of the book--it was all about how the sisters were the same and how they were different.
That was a couple of years ago, and as we've worked on the book since then...taking photos, adding text....I've come to realize other components of this venture. Both the girls' grandmothers are sisters. Their mother has a close sister relationship with their aunt. I realized we needed to celebrate not just Abby and Emma's relationship, but all the sister relationships in their family. We need to honor these family ties and learn from them. They can make our family stronger and tighter.
So back to our book~
As I said, the girls came over on a later date, and posed for pictures. Pictures that would illustrate what they said in their interview.
Then I went through the photo file on my computer, and realized those candid shots were really the best, so I'll use some of those for the book.
But wait! There's more!!
As I went through photo files on my computer, I also found photos of me and my sisters to add to the book, as well as cousins of the girls who have strong relationships with their sisters. I plan to add their photos as well.
And still more!
I plan to add quotes that I've received from these same cousins and others--quotes about the values and benefits of having a sister:
Lizzy - "There are so many things I could say about my amazing little sister, but I'll just simply say my sister is my built-in best friend."
Emily - "My big sister is my absolute best friend. The bond I have with my sister is very special thing that we share. I wouldn't want anyone else to be my big sister."
Lyndsey - "A built-in best friend--whether we like it or not!"
CJaye - "Friend for life!"
Brandi - "Having sisters means having many extensions of my heart."
Beth - "It's the next best thing to having your mom..."
Gigi - "Having big sisters means having special advisors and life-coaches."
A peek at some of the pages in my granddaughters' book~
Things you can do~
Fun quotes about sisters~
The girls' cousin Brandi sent me several quotes. I thought they were their own quotes from both Brandi and her sisters, but it turns out they are quotes that they've seen and loved. I like them too:
I found some fun quotes as well, and plan to add them to the book:
As grandparents, I think it is up to us to facilitate all our family relationships, and not just sisters. All the relationships within the family and extended family, and not only with books like I've presented here; it can be with phone calls, texts, chats, family get-togethers, and sharing of traditions. The list goes on and on. Let's do this! It's things like this that make our golden years GOLDEN!
Looking for something to do over spring break with your children or grandchildren? This is a fun one, and one they can then share with others! Make bookmarks for others and use watercolor techniques.
I had seen a watercolor craft online and realized it was something I had never done with my grandchildren. I decided it was a nice relaxing activity, and if we watercolored bookmarks, we could share with our local nursing home. So when they came over yesterday, that's exactly what we did.
The sentiments we wrote on each we deemed appropriate for the residents of the nursing home. It was a fun half-day activity as we did a watercolor wash on 8x10 paper, left them to dry and then ran errands and went to lunch. Always fun with my grand girls!
We had fun with this craft. We tried a few different techniques including a stifle technique as well as a watercolor wash, all of which you can find online. We used colored markers to write our words of inspiration, and got out all my leftover ribbon to add to the bookmark. We eventually decided we could do these for our friends as well. They would kind of be like "kindness bookmarks" instead of kindness rocks.
And as always seems to happen when I'm writing this blog, there was an article in Parade magazine by Lori Greiner. She makes uplifting posters for kids and schools, and you can get her wall decals for free. That inspired me for a summer craft for my granddaughters--we can make kindness posters using our watercolor techniques. Check it out:
Pass the above web address on to your kids and grandkids so they can get the free posters for their school. I know I'm going to!
As usual, I'll end with some points of inspiration:
"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For indeed, that's all who ever have." Margaret Mead
"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." Desmond Tutu
Have you ever had a special remembrance celebration for a deceased loved one on their birthday? Several of my friends have done that, and I simply must share.
It all started one summer day when I called my daughter-in-law to see if I could arrange a playdate with my two granddaughters. When I talked to Lisa about putting it on the schedule, she said they were so excited to be going to a tea party at their Aunt Bonnie's that day. She explained that her Aunt Bonnie and her mother decided to have a tea for their dear mother who had passed a few years earlier. Bonnie and Linda had a keen desire for their own granddaughters to know their mother. And what better way to do that than with a tea party on their mother's birthday! I was so taken with that idea.
Here's what was included in their planning:
The two women had their mother's collection of teacups. Of course they would use those. Their mother had also started collecting beautiful china plates from antique shops and flea markets. Every time she came to see her daughters in her later years, she would bring them antique plates she had bought for them. So they had those plates for the celebration as well.
The two women then collected various photos they had of their mother and framed them to put around the dining area where the tea party would be held. They chose photos from various stages of their mother's life. Unfortunately I have only a couple of those treasured photos to share, but you get the idea. They wanted to capture for Grandmother Betty's great-granddaughters the vibrant life and personality of their mother.
The setting-up before their honored guests arrived.
The guest list included their daughters, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters. They set up enough tables for all their guests and got out their teapots, teacups, and other serving pieces. They were also sure to add the foodstuffs necessary for a proper tea--lemon curd, coddled cream, lemons, cream, honey, sugar, finger sandwiches and scones. They did it up right!
Let the celebration begin! They were sure to show their granddaughters each and every picture and describe them. As they dined on tea and crumpets, they told stories about their great-grandmother, and offered traits their mother had that they had seen in their own daughters and granddaughters. I am sure on that day, the young girls' great-grandmother came alive to them. And they plan to continue the tradition. Besides sharing their mother's stories and life history, Linda and Bonnie see it as a way for at least once a year, getting all the cousins together. That's often hard to achieve in our busy world.
But wait, there's more!
Other friends have reported doing something like this to honor their loved ones on their heavenly birthdays. One friend told me about her granddaughter having everyone over on her great-grandfather's birthday. It was a casual summer celebration in remembrance of their beloved Bopie. The granddaughter served his favorite summer treat, Coke floats.
Another friend lost a beloved nephew just last year. His mother (her sister) had everyone over on his birthday for big bowls of chocolate ice cream--his favorite! And this grandmother presented them all with tee-shirts with his favorite saying, "And I think to myself, what a wonderful world."
Live and learn and pass it on!
I hate to tell you, but I had never heard of having a special remembrance celebration on a deceased loved one's birthday, and I think it is such a wonderful idea. And I wanted to pass it on to readers of my blog. If you've done something like this, please write me. I promise to share here. As grandparents, we've come to that time in our life when we want our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to know their departed family members. We want them to know our history and our stories. As I've repeated many times, we are the link between the two generations that came before us and the two generations that come after us. Besides telling those stories, we should celebrate their lives just as these people have done. What a treasure! What a remembrance!
More kindness rocks--same song, second verse!
It's almost spring break. Here's hoping you'll be able to spend some time with your grandchildren on their spring vacation. I came up with something for me and my older grands to do. I call them kindness rocks with a multicultural twist. It's been fun for me, and I hope it will be fun for them when they visit.
As I've written in past blogs, I've really enjoyed painting kindness rocks. It's simple really--just buy a bag of garden rocks at the home improvement store, paint a short message on them, and plant them around your neighborhood on your daily walk. The idea is to make someone's day when they find the rock with a simple image or short phrase of inspiration. Megan Murphy, the founder of the Kindness Rocks Project, said it best, "One message at just the right moment can change someone's entire day, outlook, life."
So I've been painting kindness rocks, and planting them around town for probably a year and a half. I got rather bored with writing the same old sentiments on the rocks. I remembered when I taught World Cultures in middle school, I did a mini-unit on African wisdom and folk lore. Little bits of wisdom and folk adages from around the world have always intrigued me. So I thought why not put some folk wisdom on my kindness rocks? So there you have the premise for my latest venture. And I think it's a great one to share with my grandchildren. Fun and educational for them too!
Not the whole truth!
I'm not really telling the entire truth about my moment of inspiration. I actually found this African-stylized lion on Pinterest, loved him, and ended up painting him. I decided that he needed a bit of African folk wisdom to go on the back. So there you have my complete motivation. (Insert chuckle here.)
And that's it!
I've had fun researching folk wisdom from around the world, and searching on Pinterest and other sites for just the right image to paint on my rock (it had to be easy, as I'm certainly no artist). I hope it brings a smile to the rock finder's face. It brought some much needed therapy and calmness to my life--that's for sure.
Finding the folk wisdom and old adages for your rocks~
Of course I just did online searches for my bits of wisdom I wrote on the back of my rocks. When my grands are off for spring break, hopefully we can ride the trolley (part of the fun) to the library, and do a lot of our research there--checking out appropriate books for art ideas as well as folk wisdom.
Here are some I found that might tickle your creative bent:
Added bonus for seniors? Stress relief of course!
As I was putting this blog together, a friend posted this article on Facebook:
The article essentially says what a study at Drexel University revealed, that the hormone cortisol is lowered after about an hour of doing some kind of artwork. Cortisol is that hormone that is responsible for our"flight or fight" response. Cortisol increases in your body when you are under stress. So the implication for grandparents (or all of us really) is that when you do some kind of art or craft, you actually lower your stress. So that's one of the reasons I share painting kindness rocks with you.
Painting kindness rocks with an multicultural twist not your cup of tea? Well then, don't forget the holidays. Just paint kindness rocks with a holiday motif--we've got St. Patrick's Day and Easter coming up--go for it!
One last disclaimer: I am certainly not an artist (as you can see). I copy others' ideas from Pinterest. It all started when I was looking for a craft endeavor to do with my grandkids. A friend told me about kindness rocks. So if you haven't tried it, I would encourage you. It's not about perfection or any level of skill--it's just about FUN! And sharing with others. Isn't that what it's all about--helping each other on our walk?
My other blogs about kindness rocks:
Are you concerned because of all the stress and anxiety your grandchildren have to deal with? Helping them by showing them some mindfulness techniques might be the answer.
I see it in your posts on Facebook. The world your grandchildren live in is very different from the one we grew up in. I can't imagine having to go through "Armed Intruder Drills" in school. What our grandchildren must think and worry about when they see another mass shooting on the news. That is real anxiety.
And there are other causes of their anxiousness. Dealing with bullies on the school bus, the stress that comes with too much testing in our schools today, trying to cope with over-zealous parents or coaches in children's sports. I know you can add to this list. And there are more, such as children spending way too much time on online games and videos. Studies have shown that that does indeed change their brains and can often make them anxious mainly because of the constant barrage of visual and auditory effects. And finally, some of our grandchildren are just wired differently. They simply tend to be more anxious about things.
But we can help! Grandparents can play a huge role. We can advise them on how we handle stress. We can also show them some tips on how to cope. You can share these ideas with them when they confess to you that they often feel anxious. You can also use these when they are simply having a good old-fashioned meltdown when they are at your house. You don't have to scold them during such times; just give them some real life tips. I've culled various websites and books to make it easier for all of us. And I think these tips can help the little guys having a meltdown all the way to teenagers dealing with the stress of trying out for the honor band.
Here are some things I found to help:
If you've tried any mindfulness or meditation techniques yourself, you know that how you breathe is a big part of that. So that's where you'll want to start with children. In fact, I read that with the really little guys, you'll probably want to show them how to breathe correctly by buying them a bottle of bubbles. That way you can show them if they try to blow a bubble the way the Big Bad Wolf blew to knock the house down, that's too much. They'll end up blowing the bubble liquid all over the place and come out blowing nary a bubble. But if they blow softly, it works--they'll successfully blow a big bubble. This enables them to learn to softly and slowly exhale. So start there with the little guys.
The first breathing technique I ever learned for myself was Dr. Andrew Weil's "4-7-8" breathing technique. I first used it to get to sleep at night, but I heard from a friend that it works anytime when you're nervous or anxious, like before you speak to a large group. I shared it with my teenage grandson when he was nervous about trying out for the honor band. It's also called "The Relaxing Breath" and so it helps at such times.
"Take 5" Breathing~
This technique is about tracing your hand with your index finger. As you go up each finger, inhale. As you trace down an individual finger, exhale. Just demonstrating and doing it with a grandchild will help him learn it right away.
Breathing with "Magnet Hands"~
Tell your grandchild to stand straight and tall with their hands straight out in front of them. As they bring their hands together, they should inhale deeply while imagining a magnet is pulling their hands together, but they are fighting against that pull--don't let your hands touch!! Then when they exhale, they should pull their hands apart and just let them relax at their sides, breathing out very slowly.
I'm sure you've noticed with these breathing techniques, that just concentrating on exactly HOW you're suppose to breathe, gets your mind off your anxiousness. Another way to do this is with GROUNDING.
The "Grounding" technique-
This one I learned from my daughter-in-law and is also based on the number "5" and the five senses. When a child is having what might be called an anxiety attack, they simple stop what they are doing and look around them. They should focus on five things they see, four things they can touch/feel, three things they can hear, two things they smell, and finally one thing they can taste. As you can see, this takes them out of this time of anxiousness and grounds them in the moment--the very definition of mindfulness--existing in the moment.
I've read where many teachers are teaching their students mindfulness techniques. One way I read about is teachers keeping a rainstick in their classroom. When they want their students to get in the moment, they simply turn over the rainstick and ask the students to stop what they're doing and listen......and keep listening until they can hear the very last raindrop. Besides, how relaxing is listening to the rain?
I don't have a rainstick, but I found this old baby toy that I think would work nicely. Besides listening to the "rain," one also has a visual to watch.
Another technique to use with a grandchild who might be having a temper tantrum while at your house is to just give them a pinwheel. They might be able to refocus their attention as they blow on the pinwheel to get it to spin or whirling around the room to move the wheel. Then they can focus on the pinwheel as it slowly stops. This would be really nice with a rainbow-colored wheel, then you could ask them what colors they see and how the colors blend as it's spinning. Any items you might have around your house to get them out of their difficult moment and into a more peaceful state. You're also teaching them how to cope. They are learning what they can do when you're not around. And isn't that what we as parents and grandparents are all about--teaching our kids how to successfully cope in this world?
There you have it! Some tips on how to help your kids dealing with stress, anxiety, and even the real and honest human emotions like sadness or anger. Frankly I use these too, as I'm sure you do. Who hasn't been late to work, sat in a traffic jam, and found your anger rising? Then you remembered the simple technique of counting to ten to calm yourself as well as some deep breathing. As grandparents and role models, we should teach coping skills to our grandkids and great-grandkids.
I'll end with these thoughts:
"Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me," lyrics from the song by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller
"You can't calm the storm...so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass." Buddha's teachings
The importance of telling the stories of our ancestors:
I've written at least two blogs on this subject. I think it's really that important. I realize that most of my contemporaries are the oldest generation still alive. It's up to us to tell the stories of our family as we know them. I read a little fact before when I was writing about this subject that really brought it all home to me: We are the connection between the two generations that came before us and the two generations that come after us. I'd say that's an important connection. So if we don't do it, who will?
I've also written about the importance of sharing these stories with our grandkids. I've read and repeated in this blog, that kids who have a strong sense of family history and the importance of family traditions, just fare better in this world. They have good self esteem and a stronger performance ethic. They realize they can conquer just about anything life throws at them because they know the ones who came before them did exactly that.
So let's tell those stories--even what little bit we may know! I'll start with my in-laws as my mother-in-law is still living, and that means I can interview her. And I also have a wealth of artifacts as my father-in-law did not throw anything away--and I mean that precisely! He never threw anything away. So here we go--I'll share the process that I used. and maybe that will inspire you to do the same.
I started by interviewing my mother-in-law. I've heard the stories before, but this time I wrote down what she said. To give you some background information, my father-in-law was in the Army Air Corps stationed in England during World War II. My mother-in-law is from England. The air field where Adrian worked backed up to Margie's family's farm. That's how they met. But fast forward to after their marriage, and Adrian bringing Margie to America. That's one story I wanted to tell. Future generations would probably want to know how she got to America, and I wanted my grands to know the hardships she endured making such a trip. Here are the facts I got from Margie in our telephone interview:
And with these next artifacts, my children and grandchildren can actually see what life was like aboard a ship in 1947. How cool is this?
Each day the ship printed out a newspaper with news of the world as well as news from aboard ship. I loved reading all the copies he saved. And as you can see, there was entertainment aboard ship each night. One such newspaper revealed that they even showed movies. One night they saw "Anchors Aweigh" with Frank Sinatra. In "technicolor" no less!
I realized after I started this that I really need to interview Margie again...and perhaps again. In telling her story, I need more details, like where did they live while waiting for their papers? What did she pack? Did she use a big trunk? What was she feeling and thinking on the day they traveled to Southhampton to board the ship? How did they travel to Southhampton? Did any of her family go with them and see them off? As you can see, the questions go on and on, and something I'd really like to know.
And I've discovered websites that can help you write your ancestor stories. So you don't have to go it alone:
And there are myriad ways to do this. My husband told his family stories in a scrapbook. I'm thinking this is the best and easiest way to do it. Just simply paste into the scrapbook any pictures and memorabilia you have, and add any captions to give additional facts as you know them. Oral histories are fine, and most of us do that. But to have a memento of your family stories for your kids and grandkids is wonderful too. And as I always tell you in this blog, there are great websites for using your scanned photos and making your own book.
You don't have to have a lot of details about the ancestors or all the wonderful keepsakes that my husband's family has. My friend Kathy made a book about her and her husband's ancestors and at Christmas, presented it to her children. She had very little information about the people, but she proceeded anyway. Sometimes all she had were the dates of their births and their marriage, and sometimes their children's names. But what she did know either from her own experiences or from reports from her parents, she added to the book. Anything that makes those people come alive and jump off the page as flesh and blood people trying to eke out a living and participate in life. Here's a page from her book:
That was the extent of Kathy's writing about her great-grandparents. But they were still alive when she was a little girl, and she remembers how she loved going to their home. She says it was such a warm and happy place. That makes that couple in the picture above seem so real.
Another friend is researching and recording her family history. Beth has this wonderful picture of her great-grandparents. They moved from Bell County, Texas to Lea County, New Mexico back in 1895. Our children and grandchildren study the Western Movement in school. Can you imagine how that comes alive for them when they see their ancestors actually participated in that expansion? And no, someone in the crowd didn't take a selfie. Either a traveling photographer took the picture or they got a photographer to come and take the picture upon their departure in Texas or arrival in New Mexico. More interesting details to tell the grandkids.
One last plea!
Please don't leave those old family photos in a box in the attic for your kids to spy after you've gone, only to simply throw away as just a dusty old box full of ancient pictures of strangers whom they simply don't know. Put them in a scrapbook and record any details about them that you might know. I think it's that important. And if you can add any details that you might know about them from your own experience, add that too. It makes them come alive right off the page!
My previous blogs about writing "Ancestor Stories":
The app Kathy used for her book of ancestor stories: Simple Prints. And the website--
"The songs of our ancestors are also the songs of our children." Phillip Carr-Gomm
"We're all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us." Liam Callanan
Surprise your grandchildren with some Valentine treats, and make it educational while you're at it! Everyone enjoys getting Valentines. And we can sneak some educational gifts into the treat bag! It's all fun! And since you're surprising your grandchildren with some St. Valentine's Day goodies, gift their parents too!
The seed of this idea may have started with my own mother. Once when I was in junior high school, she came home with two of those beautiful boxes full of chocolates for my brother and me. I remember what a delightful surprise that was. It actually made me laugh as I thought at the time, it's usually something you get from a sweetheart. It was just so fun to have my own box and to pick out any of the chocolates I wanted. And who hasn't coveted those beautiful boxes in the Five and Dime or the local drugstore. It really was a treat
Try to recreate that childhood memory!
I'm always about trying to recreate a favorite childhood memory for my own grandchildren. But the school teacher in me wanted to gift something beyond just candy--something educational but still fun for them! When my grands were little, I used the day to give them various things. I often filled a bag full of treats for them: books about Valentine's Day, tee-shirts with a Valentine theme, CDs with a collection of favorite children's songs, and maybe a wee bit of candy. I often filled the bag and put it at their door to greet them when they returned home from school--there's something about that element of surprise. And for grands not in town, a care package with the same items would arrive in the mail. I have fun filling the bag.
I haven't done such a bag in a while--my grands are getting older and they're not about cute Valentine tees with the printed words, "Daddy's Little Sweetheart," or other such juvenile embellishments. I'm thinking no one buys CDs anymore and they'd rather pick out their own music and books, thank you very much.
But I'm doing it again this year and here's what I came up with:
For my five-year-old~
And for my older grands:
You don't have to spend a lot of money. I kept it very simple. For my 14-year-old, I just got a box of daily basketball trivia and a bag of his favorite candy. For my granddaughters, I got them items for their desk and journal writing as well as bags of their favorite candy. Everyone should get a sweet treat on this day.
And as I previously stated, I want to get something for my daughter-in-law and my two sons. I'm thinking along these lines:
I just need to pack it in a pretty bag and place it at their door on Valentine's Day while they're all gone to work and school. It should be a nice Valentine surprise.
As I always say, this is fun for grandparents too--the giving that is. If you've got the winter blues, it gets you out of the house and shopping at a local mall. Who wants to always be sitting at home. These are the ages of my grandchildren, but I know many of you have college-age kids. They would really enjoy a care package with some Valentine treats. Just have some fun!
I'll close with these favorite quotations:
"You always gain by giving love." Reese Witherspoon
"All you need is love, But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." Charles M. Schulz
Looking for a new idea for a loved one for Valentine's Day? I think this one is rather fun! Give them a jar full of memories.
I saw this on the old Oprah show several years ago. It's really simple and straightforward. Just get a pretty jar or dish and write memories of that person on little slips of paper. You can do this for parents, your kids or grandkids, a dear friend, your spouse...the list goes on and on.
When I saw this on Oprah's show, I shared it with a friend. She had seen the same show too. We both decided to do this for our husbands for Valentine's Day. I believe she even did one for her mother. We had fun sharing our ideas.
Just go to the shops you enjoy to pick out a vase or dish or basket. Something that would match their decor or that they would like. I even looked at some candle holders--that way after the holiday and all the reading of memories, you can use it for candles. Sometimes vases just get put up in the closet and forgotten. Use a vessel that you (or the recipient) might use--like a candle holder or a big coffee mug.
Once you've got your jar or vase, then write your memories on slips of paper and place inside. The memories are strictly up to you. They can be anything. Writing for your spouse or significant other? Write how you met, what you love about her, trips you've taken, how they've been supportive....you get the idea. Writing for a grandchild? Memories of their birth, fun things you've done together and silly things they've said.
And single slips of paper are fun, but it might be even more creative to put a ribbon on each so they have to pull them out. Or put them on a decorative straw or pencil.
You could even put some chocolate kisses or other candies in the dish. And you might also forget the vase and put your memories in balloons. A friend did my blog back in June. She shared how she and her siblings did "thanks for the memories" for their dad. They put their good thoughts and memories in balloons, and he had to pop each and read them. How fun to do for Valentine's Day too.
On another note:
I really think when I saw this Oprah show, it was actually about doing a memory jar for someone you might be estranged from. It's a way to attempt to heal a broken relationship. It's one of those exercises that helps the giver as well as the memory jar recipient. So there's no time like Valentine's to create and give such a jar. You never know the healing it can bring until you try it.
I just think Valentine's Day is a day to be a kid again and have some fun with this holiday. It's a February holiday that can bring you out of your winter funk. A memory jar--give it a try!
Okay, all you retirees out there who may or may not be grandparents! I've got another craft idea for you. Hey! It's a good way to pass the time because you're either snowed in or you simply don't want to get out in the bone-chilling cold.
What is it? Making prayer boxes! And then you have an item you can pass on to a friend or family member who might be going through a difficult time.
All you need are some empty Altoid boxes, some washi tape or paints, ribbons, buttons, lace, and other embellishments. Oh, and don't forget your hot glue gun. I've posted some websites below if you like more detailed instructions.
And that really is all there is to it. I actually just found some prayer boxes on Pinterest that I liked and copied them, more or less. I will tell you that I bought some pretty scrapbook paper at the craft store, and proceeded to simply decoupage the paper after I traced a pattern from the tin. But that didn't work; it came right off after it dried. I'm guessing the smooth tin top needed to be sanded a bit so it would take the glue. So I ended up just using a combination of double-sided tape and hot glue. That's what I used for the top. I used washi tape for the sides. Washi tape comes in so many cool patterns and colors.
Finally, you glue the sweet sentiment inside the lid, include some paper you've cut for the recipient to write their prayer, and a small pen. I found those pens, small enough for an Altoid box, at a party supply store in the party favors section. Viola! You have a sweet gift to give someone to let them know you're praying WITH them.
You could even tuck in a small verse about prayer if you wanted. There's this one from the Bible:
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy
Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
These thoughts from Kahil Gibran:
"You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?"
And since I made a box with a Native American theme, I share some of their prayers:
"As I walk, as I walk, the universe is walking with me. In beauty it walks before me. In beauty it walks behind me; in beauty it walks below me. In beauty it walks above me. Beauty is on every side. As I walk, I walk with Beauty." Traditional Navajo prayer
And this one from the Cherokee:
"May the warm winds of Heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there. May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows. And may the Rainbow always touch your shoulder."
I share this craft with you. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for craft ideas, and ones that might lift someone. After all, we're just walking each other home.
I close my blog this week with 1 Thessalonians 4:11~
"Aspire to live a quiet life, to mind your own affairs and to work with your hands."
Prayer boxes ideas:
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!