Connecting Our Past through Family Heirlooms and Traditions (part 1)
As we rocket into the future at ever increasing rates of speed, many of the items, memories, and traditions of our past get pushed off to the side and often forgotten as families become more distant and less connected to their past. This is not something that a typical Amish family can identify with, however. The Amish are so in touch with their past that is has changed little over the decades. Not only do the Amish treasure their past and where they came from, they honor it on a daily basis by living their lives very much the same way they have for generations. This, in large part, is due to the handing down and passing on of family heirlooms and traditions.
While tangible items are not generally treasured by the Amish as a whole, handmade items, such as Amish quilts, cedar hope chests, or wooden crafts, are often passed down to future generations. This keeps them connected to the past, just as they will continue to be connected to the future members of their Amish family and community. An Amish mother may make a special Amish quilt to be given to her daughter on her wedding day and this quilt may be passed down to her granddaughter when she gets married. The tradition of quilting itself is also handed down through the generations as mothers teach their daughters how to make the traditional Amish quilts just as their mothers taught them.
Amish fathers, who are often skilled woodworkers, might make cedar hope chests for their daughters to collect the items they will need when they get old enough to marry and start families. These hope chests are made using the traditional methods that were developed hundreds of years ago that require no nails or modern tools to construct. They might be passed down from family to family and treasured for many generations. Amish men will also pass on the skills and know-how of traditional Amish woodworking to their sons. They might also be skilled at making other items, such as handmade wooden toys and crafts. These toys and crafts might become treasured family heirlooms that have been handed down from fathers to sons over generations.
It's this connection to the past that keeps the Amish people so unified and steadfast in their traditional ways of life. While most modern families will not have this strong of a connection to the past as the Amish do, it's something that can be reignited and continued on into the future. Knowing where we came from and who our families were can make us stronger for the future. One way to begin doing this is to start collecting or finding the family heirlooms of our past. Even if it's just finding one or two photos of a long gone generation, researching the family name through an online genealogy search, or sifting through grandma's attic for forgotten family treasures, you too can start connecting with your past.
Connecting Our Past through Family Heirlooms and Traditions (part 2)