A short time ago, my father and I reflected on some childhood memories, and how certain smells or songs could trigger powerful remembrances that would otherwise remain buried. “Memories,” he said quietly, “are all I have.” As the primary caregiver to our mother, he is married yet in many ways alone. His hours are filled with prolonged periods of reflection, and with that time he often writes these memories into childhood stories, life sketches, and anecdotes.

Many of these stories we already knew in the form of family folklore. At family Christmas gatherings, he would tell us the story of The Bicycle or The Christmas Tree, but until now, they were never shared in written form. This Christmas, Kindex helped Leon create a small book of these memories, three of which we will be sharing with you. The first story, “The Slingshot” coincided with a gift of homemade slingshots he presented to his grandchildren. The grandchildren had a riot on Christmas Day practicing their new slingshots on various targets around his home. No eyes were injured, no glass was broken, and amongst the fun, we wove new memories into old ones. We not only knew the story, we became it.

Someday when our parents are gone, we’ll write this story: The story of how Grandpa made 25 slingshots in his woodworking shop, shaping and sanding each one. The story of how, in his loneliest hours, he cut and sewed each suede “flipper crutch” and attached the rubbing tubing. The story of how he made each slingshot unique, painting each grandchild’s initials on the back. We’ll write about how he showed us how to shoot them, and who first toppled the giant pyramid of cups he stacked for target practice. We’ll remember Grandma watching us quietly from her bed in the middle of the family room, knowing that in her prime, she’d beat us all.

Nothing can stand up to the value of memory. It shapes our belonging like no DNA test or ancestral chart can. This year, the story of the slingshot got another chapter, and with each generation more will be added. We hope you enjoy these memories and stories as much as we did.

 


A Christmas Tree for Archie and Matilda

As recalled by Leon Chamberlain It was probably around 1920 that the saga of the Christmas tree took place in my grandmother Chamberlain household. Mary Caroline Nordstrom Chamberlain was a widow with two young children, Matilda (8), and Archie (5). Grandmother worked...

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The Bicycle

That Yale was the only bicycle I had growing up. When I got tired of the color, I painted it a different one. I would completely take the bicycle apart from one end to the other and reassemble it again. I knew that bike backwards and forwards and probably rode it several thousand miles. I had no desire to have another bike, and it wasn’t until my interests shifted to cars that I parked my Yale in the back of the garage, never to be ridden again.

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