Annie shows you how to use cardboard, a pen and your pots to make spring planting a snap!
My mom has always celebrated others — her friends, my friends, me, our broader family. She sends a care package of baked goods to our daughter and her college friends every week. Yes. Every week for four years. (She did that for me, too.) And it brings the college students and my mom such joy!
Celebrating good moments, achievements, and “just for fun” is part of her DNA. Maybe literally. Her maternal family were 100% Norwegian and they laughed all the time. I can still see (they looked like Vikings) and hear my great aunts and uncles and grandma giggling together — even into their 80’s. They were smart (many engineers and technology experts) with advanced degrees, but boy were they silly! Authentic, to the core belly laughs and celebrations were a central part of their lives. I loved spending time with them.
I have had a front row seat to experience what happens when we celebrate others. They glow. They warm. They flourish. And life takes on a very different tone for everyone. — It is a wonderful one.
This year, Annie and I have chosen “celebrate” as the focus for our book series. This will be so much fun and completely consistent with what the Read This… series is meant to do! Will be CELEBRATING everything we can along with you. Big, small. Whatever. Pretty sunrises, gatherings with friends, fun moments with pets, babies, children, aging parents, graduations, snow, warm weather, weddings, birthdays, new houses, mastering something, TRYING something new, retirements, quiet moments, goofy moments…let’s celebrate something every day! We’d love to hear from you because celebrating really is contagious and life-changing.
Thanks Mom and the Christianson family…and
People are searching for their family history like never before, and what they really want to know is the STORY of their ancestors. Names, dates and places are good, but we all want STORIES.
I have loved learning about my family. Especially two of my great-great grandmothers.
One was befriended by the Sioux in South Dakota (Dakota Territory) when she was a young girl after her family arrived from Norway. The family, part of the first group to settle west of the Sioux River, included a widowed mother who spun flax as trade to survive, and two daughters. As time passed young Gurina’s Sioux friends warned her (and thus her sister and widowed mother) that they should leave immediately because of upcoming violence. They quickly fled to Iowa and, therefore, lived beyond an infamous (understandable) retaliation by the Sioux. The trio later returned, but if Gurina’s Sioux friends had not warned her, our family would not be here today! I love that we share a middle name and I wonder/worry about what became of her Sioux friends.
Gurina also told her part of a Jessie James encounter. One of her granddaughters who lives in The Yukon Territory (who was given the small flax spinning wheel that kept the family alive - how cool is that?) wrote it down. Apparently Jessie James was traveling west (read: “on the run”) after a very famous botched bank robbery in Minnesota. Gurina “gave” Jessie a horse. I’m laughing about the verb there. At first I thought there must be a better verb since he was on the run, but after giving it more thought and overlaying Gurina’s history, she probably did keep her cool and “gave” may be the perfect verb!
Another great-great grandmother “Hester” and grandfather (who started in Colorado) had actual lions, tigers, leopards, chimps and bears — to name a few. They had a LOT of them. (I’m not condoning wild animal capture, but it is a fact. They supplied circuses and later movies.) I’ve been told that there’s still an ordinance in Independence, MO, a few blocks from Harry Truman’s home, prohibiting elephants in the town square. It makes me laugh. There is much to this story, and I have read many accounts of people hearing the lions, panthers and tigers roar at night in Independence, MO and later in California. I have a copy of Hester’s handwritten will on the family’s business letterhead (the picture on this page) that features a lion, an elephant and a monkey. The will says WHY everyone receives their portion and tells part of Hester’s story. It’s so much more interesting than just a list of assets because it gives you a glimpse into her life and what she thought. Plus I love seeing her handwriting!
I often marvel at these two women and wonder whether my adventuresome spirit (my mom and dad used to call me “The Little Explorer”) passed down from these great-great grandmothers. I wish I could have met them!
Do you know your story? I’ll bet you wish you knew more. But that isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning. YOUR story matters. The one you are living today. In three generations, you will be a marvel! — Your words, ideas, reflections and memories will be of great value to your progeny. More than you can imagine.
Our ancestors shaped us, and we are somehow shaping life for people who have not even been born yet. So WRITE IT DOWN! TELL YOUR STORY! Even just a page about your life and your thoughts. Bullet points are fine. — Leave them some clues about you!
A grateful great-great granddaughter,
“The Little Explorer" (grown up) - Christy
That is precisely why Annie and I wrote Read This…® On Your Birthday. We all know we are living in a wildly busy world, and it seems to be getting busier by the week. In all this frenzy, our good intentions are sometimes hard to implement. My cousin Amy recently told me she always had good intentions, but now she is determined to execute on her good intentions so her actions reflect what she always wanted to do. She is doing a great job of that and her story stuck with me. (Hold on — I’ll get back to that in a jiffy.)
We all know how children of all ages love to hear stories about their earlier years. The cute or funny things they did. The things people who love them/who they love were proud of. We adults think we will remember all those moments and we take gobs of photos to catalog it all, but we lose track. We keep pushing through the next “busyness" we have scheduled.
Read This…®On Your Birthday provides a quick solution so those stories or situations don’t get lost over time! You simply pull off the shelf every year on a child’s birthday and write some quick answers to fun questions. The child can participate, too, by answering what they want to do when they grow up…and their “part” grows with them over time. Then you put it back on the shelf until the next year. Those simple, quick steps on the birthday every year become a tradition and add up to the story of the child’s life. AND it is SIMPLE! So it helps us execute on those good intentions (just like Amy is doing).
Who fills it out? Well it just depends on the situation!
- Maybe a mom or dad
- Maybe a grandma or grandpa (a great new-grandma or new grandpa gift)
- My long-time friend Char can attest to how much grandchildren cherish notes from their grandparents.
- Maybe a Godparent
- Maybe an aunt or uncle
- Maybe a combination of all of those special people in a child’s life!
No matter who does it, it becomes a treasure for that child. — A gift of lasting love. And one that is manageable in our crazy busy world filled with good intentions...
I smile every time I hear a story about shoeboxes of love letters between couples. I’m talking about those letters from their romance of days gone by. Or how about loving letters between parents or grandparents and the children they loved back when snail mail was the only mail. Think of opening those letters years later to read the loving thoughts they contained. The thought of it makes me smile. It feels warm.
One example that moves me is a letter hanging on the wall, framed, at one of my friends’ homes. It is a letter from a young man in college to his grandmother - written many decades ago. The young man wrote the letter during his college days. It starts with an update about school and activities, but then transitions into girls. He says something like: he has met girls, but "no girl holds a candle to Karen." His grandma saved the letter. The young lovebirds married and had three children. His grandma saved the letter which became the keystone in the couple’s home. Filled with honesty and warmth, the letter has become part of their family history. Their grandchildren will read the letter that their grandfather wrote to his grandmother about his love for Karen - their grandma. The framed letter is a constant reminder of the love the boy had for the girl…and from that love a whole family grew.
Flash forward to today. Texting and social media are the norm. A loving thought is often sent fast and then lost or buried in a stream. Or it is designed to disappear. Either way, it is gone. It doesn’t become part of the fabric of a relationship like that framed letter or the letters tucked away in a closet. The history and rooting vanish. When times are hard or we need a reminder about the love we have shared, where do we look for the thoughts and feelings? Sure we can find photos in the cloud, but where are the thoughts, the ones you might write privately? It feels empty in comparison.
Written notes whether short or long seem to come alive. They root and grow. They inspire and provide comfort. They make you laugh. They provide context. – All of that is a true gift. I’m thankful for the people in my life who have written me letters and notes with loving thoughts.
That is why I am passionate about guided journals. They give you a place to jot your thoughts down. The really good ones about the people you love. A special space. And they become a roadmap for your loved ones to follow when they find themselves lost in the clutter of today - and tomorrow. They know exactly where to look to find your words/your thoughts/your guidance. However you do it, please write it down!