Sometimes we accidentally stumble onto something special. That was certainly the case with this book, Passed and Present by Allison Gilbert. Frankly, I checked it out relating more to memories of my late husband, but I found a lot of ideas that connected with sharing memories of anyone we cherish. I wanted to share a few ideas Gilbert presented that spoke to me as unique or interesting, or special ways to remember our ancestors.
For starters, the book is filled with a number of ways to use items that has belonged to others but in new and more usable ways. Why not make a "Family Fossil" (Gilbert's term) as a way to display old buttons, pendants, ID badges, etc. by casting small items in clear plastic resin for new use as a paperweight. Another suggestion was to present jewelry, tools, other memorabilia in a shadow box, together with a picture of the ancestor. Or cover a picture frame with old keys once belonging to a special person. Her repurposing projects range from easy and child-friendly to advanced or for skilled crafters, some referring to professional services for completion. I appreciated the wide variety of suggestions and the artwork by Jennifer Orkin Lewis presented in the book's list of "Forget Me Nots".
Other suggestions are more personal such as simple Random Acts of Kindness done in memory of an ancestor, things like baking cookies for someone as a memory of baking with your grandmother or a family hike to pick up litter along a favorite trail. Allison Gilbert also suggests that sometimes passing something on to others is the best use for an item, far better than the item gathering dust on a shelf or being stuck away in a drawer. During a recent family visit, complete with accompanying the grands for a tour of the attic, one of my grandchildren kept looking at a wooden gavel made by her great grandfather. Others had seen it on previous trips, but no one had been very interested in the gavel before. After seeing my granddaughter's smile when I shared the story about the gavel, I knew it was the right time to pass it on to her. And so I did.
Technology can help family connect in ways when geography might otherwise be a hindrance. Posting old family photos to a Facebook family group page on Throwback Thursday can share special memories in a way that might interest even those not specifically involved in genealogy. Or, the author suggests, this might be a good time to digitize family recipes hand written by loved ones and use these treasured recipes to create a family cookbook.
The book left me with a number of ideas to consider as special ways to remember my husband as well as to remember other ancestors. Besides arts and crafts projects, Gilbert also has a section of ways to remember others on holidays as well as a collection of memorializing traditions from other cultures. I spent several weeks reading (and rereading) the ideas presented in the book, photocopying a few pages, even getting a friendly email overdue notice from my library, but it was time well spent.
Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive by Allison Gilbert is filled with great ideas, all the while being sensitive to the emotional impact of dealing with family treasures and the personal possessions of loved ones. Perhaps this book will give you some ideas on meaningful ways to share your family treasures and help keep those memories alive.