Line #3 of our Family Creed is “We believe in celebrating together–our faith, our heritage, our traditions.”
This is such a complex line that it’s too much for one blog. I started writing and saw that I would never make it past the first comma without the need for another blog. So, line #3 is divided even more, down to the key points–Faith, Heritage, and Tradition.
Celebrating our heritage comes through in so many ways–we are who we somewhat because of where we come from. Although our past doesn’t define us, our perspective of the world can largely be shaped by the faith, heritage and traditions we choose to hold on to.
We have a rich heritage that includes Amish, Native Americans, and confederate soldiers. My grandparents on my father’s side were raised Amish–horses and buggies, no electricity, thirteen and sixteen children, the whole caboodle. My mother’s side of the family brought the Welsh and the Native Americans…the story goes that an Englishman came and swept a Native American squaw off her feet and they lived happily ever after. We still carry the olive skin and dark hair and eyes from this branch of the family tree.
My husband’s history is the deep South. His grandmother can trace their descendants back to the Mayflower. There are colonels and belles and even Thomas Edison in his family tree. His relatives had a love for education and nature, and there are many foresters and naturalists in his family tree. On his father’s side, there is a hard work ethic that came from starting from nothing and creating a family, and although the history isn’t as known on this side, the heritage they’ve passed down is still just as rich.
So what does this heritage imply for our children? My husband brings a love of history and a passion for the South…not the “redneck” stereotype, but the true Southern gentleman. He shares with his children all of the names of the native Southern plants; what they are, what they do, how you can survive off the wilderness… His grandfathers taught him the importance of hard work and doing things right so that working, in my husband’s mind, is second nature. He brings work and play together as he truly enjoys what he does, whether it’s his work with 48 Days or playing “Mr. Fix-it” around the house. His parents fostered his imagination in a way where I am continually amazed by his creativity and the amazing things he comes up with–his time on the floor with our girls in creative play is incredible to watch.
The greatest thing from my heritage is from my Amish grandparents…this was what we carried on the most, and made the greatest impact on our whole family. My father’s parents taught us the “best of” the Amish, in my mind. We learned how to do things from scratch…sew, bake, grow a garden and take it from a seed to canning, applesauce, or a fresh rhubarb crisp. I learned about farming on my uncle’s farm, and learned about flowers from following my grandpa around. Grandma taught me how to make a perfect stitch, and that if it’s not done right, it’s not done at all.
My grandparents instilled a heritage that, although they chose to leave the Amish ways when they married, the core values and ethics flowed over to their children, their children’s children, and now on to their great-grandchildren. I could go on and on about the people they were and the impression the made on our whole family. They welcomed my mother, a naive “worldly” fashion model, and embraced her as one of their own…and in doing so exemplified the love and openness I admire so much as a reflection of the faith we celebrate as well. My grandmother made such an impact on me I named my daughter after her–not only are we passing on the heritage of our family, we are passing on the family names. (My paternal grandparents’ engagement picture)
Both of our girls are named after our grandmothers–three grandmas honored, and eight legacies in that generation that we have to thank for the heritage we know now. We celebrate the history that is in our childhood hearts–the elements of our past and our ancestor’s past that has been stored in our souls and passed down to each generation. We remember and relish certain things from childhood that become etched in our memory as important…and then we pass it on to our own children.
A Princeton definition of heritage is “practices that are handed down from the past by tradition”… The practices and stories I learned from my grandparents and my husband did from his have created the crucial foundation for our own definition of family. We are blessed to have our heritage, and the next post will go further into the traditions we’ve brought into our own home because of it.
What is your heritage? How do you pass that down in your family?