Some of my earliest memories are from when I was around two years old. I'm sure they are more 'memories of memories' now than first-timers, but ... I remember going to ask my mom if I'd ever been at a lake (different from the one I grew up on) facing a cabin, with a sort of hefty guy standing facing me, arms crossed over a rake handle.
She responded, "Oh, my goodness! That was Great-Uncle Billy at Higgens Lake, near Petoskey (Michigan)! You were only two!" Both sides of my family, mom's brother and his wife, parents and great-great-uncles and dad's brother and his wife, parents and grandparents had gathered at that lake, renting two cabins on the shore for the summer. I was the first-born child in the latest generation, so I had all the love anyone could ever want. It became a very special memory to me.
Similarly, I went to her again with a Christmas scene in a tiny apartment. That one originated in my Great-Uncle Henry's tiny Detroit apartment, apparently when I was not much older than two. (My grandmother, Jessie White Beare who was part Potawatami of the Algonquin Nation, had 12 brothers and one sister, who had died; most lived long lives into their 90s and participated in much of my growing up years.)
Another time, I went to mom again and described a small apartment where my Aunt Gabriel was carrying in a baby boy. After similarly describing the scene, this one was from when I was around seven. After years of trying to have their own child, Gabe and my Uncle Bob had just adopted my adored cousin David. I was in love! They went on to adopt a baby girl, Annie and miracle of miracles, at 13, my special cousin Sue (who spoke at mom's celebration of life service two years ago) was born. She and I have been close all our lives and remain so.
Very few Christmases were spent with just Mom, Dad and me. Most were with various parents, great-greats, grandparents, great-grandparents, cousins and a multitude of friends, including what mom called my 'strays;' anytime I found out in high school or college that someone was going to be alone on
Thanksgiving or Christmas, they were dragged to the Beare table for dinner. I still have lifelong friends in that group.
An estate acquired at our antiques shop held a 100-year old Christmas tree holder of cast-iron, enamel-painted that would easily hold about a 15' tree without it toppling over, though the holder was only about one-foot square. My grandparents had one exactly like that, and started me down memory lane. I am so glad to have my husband Rick, especially now that I am more or less an orphan, having lost mom and dad two years ago. But the family memories keep on coming, a blessing from the past.
May everyone have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And may this world be blessed with peace and joy!