There are few things in life that are truly special and family traditions are one of those things. Memories and photographs help you to immortalize people in your mind and pass on stories to your children and grandchildren. There are so many amazing people that my children never had the pleasure of knowing and my grandchildren never with either. But that’s just part of life. I can’t turn back time and bring those people back to life but I can make sure that their memories and legacies live on. My favorite way of doing this is through family traditions. Some traditions surround food and cooking, while others are connected to special holiday celebrations and others stay alive through story.
Some of my favorite memories as a little girl are of spending time at my grandfather’s hardware store. I was always a bit of a tomboy and enjoyed all things related to the outdoors. My mother cut my hair short at the age of 8 because I wouldn’t let her brush the knots out following bath time. I was mistaken for a little boy on several occasions and funny enough, it made me happy. I wore boys clothes, played on boys sports teams, and loved all things related to cars and getting dirty. Of course, my mother was slightly horrified but she never discouraged me. I loved spending weekends at the hardware store. There, my grandfather sold all sorts of tools and supplies alongside paint and fishing equipment. My job was to sell the bait. If anyone wanted small fish from the tank, I gotta scoop them out. Worms? No problem. I knew exactly where they were in the small refrigerator and how much they cost. I was even allowed to ring customers up at the register. They were patient and kind with me as I struggled to count their change.
There’s something endearing about a family business. It’s all about tradition. Passing values on from one generation to the next. So many customers would comment to my grandfather about how nice it was to see me behind the counter. It made them feel good to know I was there helping my grandpa and it made me feel good too. I remember the day my grandfather told me he was selling the business. It was a sad day for me. I was probably around 12 or 13 years old. I was less of a tomboy at that point but still enjoyed spending weekends selling bait and talking to customers. Mr. Lawry used to bring me cookies every Sunday that his wife made. Every time I smell Snickerdoodles, I think of him.
I miss the hardware store. I miss my grandfather. But I will always have the memories. And when my grandchildren visit and ask to make cookies, we always make Snickerdoodles. When they grab the small wooden stool from the corner of the kitchen so they can see over the counter to mix the ingredients, I can’t help but smile. Smile, and picture my grandfather standing on that same stool as he stocked shelves and retrieved items for customers. My husband takes the grandkids fishing in the pond behind our house. I still have the first small net my grandfather gave me and now my grandkids use it to scoop up the sunnys they reel in with the help of their grandpa.
As I watch them from the window, as the Snickerdoodles bake in the oven, the memories of my grandfather flood back. I talk about him often. About him and his store. My grand kids are fascinated by how much of a tomboy their old grandma once was. And though they’ll never get to meet my grandfather, they know him well. Through the stories and memories I share and the traditions that live on through me. And no one can take that away.