Mary and Bruce at Mt. Rainier National Park
By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales, firstname.lastname@example.org
I was a bit delayed getting out my holiday season message — 2014 was a busy and event filled year.
2014 Holiday photo by Bryce Summers
The first half of 2014 was filled with expectations as my youngest child waited for college acceptance letters – yea or nay, with mostly yeas from good schools. I think I suffered more from the parent version of “senioritus” than she did from the high school senior version.
Marching band trophies
My focus was on the last “this” – last District Band Concert, the last “that” – my last high school volunteering gig – helping out at her All Night Grad party, and the last time I had to wake up at 6 am to get one of my children up for school:)
As a Personal Historian and as a father I focused on capturing photos of her senior year – putting over a hundred photos together featuring many highlights of the year in a PowerPoint with captions. Perhaps one day this will be a photo book that she can share with her grandchildren.
The middle of the year focused on Graduation, my kids transitioning home, and then they were off again to work on the other side of the country or on an overseas service trip. We spent enjoyable days at Bethany Beach, DE, with my ever-present digital voice recorder capturing a few more family stories from my parents. I never tire of re-hearing fresh versions of old stories and I love hearing newly remembered stories they have not talked about for decades or perhaps ever.
I introduced adult “Show and Tell” at my Family Reunion with great results. Lots of family members brought objects or pictures to show and of course lots of family lore to tell.
My mother talked about her grandfather carving walking sticks and making fans. She and her cousins talked about the quilts their grandmother made for each of them. My first cousins all reacted with a “no way!” when told that their mother had been a baton twirler in high school. We learned that one of my aunts stole her cousin’s boy-friend during a sleigh ride. We heard that my great-aunt met her future husband because he threw a penny, with a note wrapped around it, out of a train window on his way to ship overseas for service in World War I.
My great-grandfather Chichester carved walking sticks and made wooden fans
This was just the tip of the family story iceberg; 90-year-old photo albums came out which we cross-referenced. We figured out who great-great uncle William was, the one who aunt Margaret (as a child) saw laid out on the pool table during her visit to her grandmother. He had died, cutting her visit short. We pondered why my grandmother was born at a summer camp, and then we saw pictures of the annual New York Life Insurance summer camp for families, hmm… may that is the connection.
Was my grandmother born during New York Life Insurance summer camp at this park?
Later in the summer we had a great family trip to Mexico and explored the ancient Mayan city of Coba where we climbed pyramids and explored the gaming courts. If this city was fully recovered from the surrounding jungle it would be the second largest city in the world (geographically). This all was very exciting since I dreamed of being an archaeologist in my youth.
We climbed the Nohoch Mul pyramid at the Mayan ruins in Coba
Then my wife and I celebrated a wonderful 25th Wedding Anniversary to Washington State with my brother and sister-in-law. We had a great time hiking and exploring “Paradise” at Mount Rainier National Park and then toured Washington Wine Country in the Yakima and Columbia River Valleys. This brought back great memories of our own Summers family agribusiness that lasted for over 100 years.
Sunrise at Mount Rainier was spectacular
During the Fall we had great trips to visit our children at college whilst seeing plays and watching marching bands perform. We visited Fallingwater and Monticello.
Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s “Fallingwater” is spectacular
At Thanksgiving we all participated in Thanksgiving Show and Tell again by showing objects and photos and sharing family stories and laughs.
To wrap up the year as the kids returned from college we did several activities. There was the extended family viewing of the third part of the Hobbit. We went on excursions to the Mall and other stores in order to buy, return, window shop, exchange and return gifts. There were trips to and from Union Station and the airport to pick up or drop off our children. We attended and hosted holiday celebrations. We visited my hometown to spend Christmas with my parents.
It has been busy and bustling year with just enough time for my son to successfully assemble the new Christmas deer that lights up our front lawn and for us to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and other memorable movies. We also spent time organizing and supporting a service and outreach project at our church where we assembled over 700 snack-packs for local charities.
It has been a good year to be a personal historian. I was elected to serve on the international board of directors for the Association of Personal Historians where I will be focusing on Regional Operations. I completed interviews and transcripts for one client. I continue to work on two books for another client. I have the forty digital voice recordings from Show and Tell at the Family Reunion, a few dozen more recordings of my parent’s and other family members’ stories and I am starting interviews to capture early stories for the 60th Anniversary of my church.
I hope you and your family are having a joyous holiday season. I hope you take some time to snap a few personal and family photos, schedule time to do a family show and tell or to record a few stories. If you need help contact me or one of my colleagues in the Association of Personal Historians.
I wish you an intriguing and memorable 2015.
May you life be inspired by sunrises and sunsets