A couple of weeks ago I shared a quilt my great-grandmother made and I was thinking at that time how we all have a lot of stuff these days. It seems there’s a storage facility on every corner and I think someone is making a fortune off of all our stuff!
Well you certainly know that I treasure every little trinket I can get my hands on from my ancestors – we can talk about whether or not that’s really healthy another time… But we also know that it’s easy to lose stuff. My family lost my paternal grandmother’s home and all the plunder she’d collected over 84 years. Our farm was burglarized and we lost things we’d been collecting for our whole lives. Both of these losses were tough and frankly even after several years they are still tender subjects.
We enjoy giving gifts (maybe I should wait till Christmastime to publish this!) but in this time of plenty far too often our presents are quickly put aside and forgotten. My Great Grandmother was a giver – I don’t think I ever left her house without some little thing in my hand. Even if it were only a magazine, she found something she could give us – and most all of those things are long gone by now.
However, I have a couple of gifts Grandma Harvey gave me that no one can take away – skills! She taught me to tat – now you may not even know what that is, but it’s an ancient method of lace-making. And she taught me to knit. I’m ashamed how long it’s been since I put one of these treasured gifts to use but I still have them. Sure I’m slower now than I was when I practiced regularly and my stitches were never as even and steady as Grandma’s but once learned a skill like this is with you forever.
As she taught me I remember Grandma telling me that she was no hand at all to knit compared to her mother. Grandma Hixson raised her family down in the Sequatchie Valley and she said girls would come from all over the valley to have Grandma teach them to knit, her skill was that widely known and admired.
While I’m certainly a supporter of formal education, it seems a shame that America has more college graduates today than ever before yet we are losing skills like knitting and tatting. Folks wouldn’t travel across the road to learn to knit and an old woman is often seen as a burden instead of an source of great knowledge.
I will try not to jump off preaching here but I can’t let the moment pass without noting that the only truly lasting thing is from God and is, as Romans 6:23 says it, “…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” If you’ve not claimed that one please feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to preach it for you – or better yet I’ll put you in touch with a real preacher! No storage fees will be charged for this precious gift!
So what kind of skills do you have that are rare these days? Do you make the best Pumpkin pie in the state? Or can you sew anything you can see – or even imagine? Does music flow from your fingertips on any instrument? The next question is even bigger…who have you shared this gift with?
Just as I’m trying every week to pass along the stories of yesteryear we need also to pass along our skills.