I have recently made a resolution. It's the same resolution that I've made like 7 other times. It is the resolution to write on my blog, and not just post a billion pictures of my cute kids. I would still like to do that.
But this blog is not only the boys' baby book, and my connection to the world, it is also my journal. So sometimes, I need to remember to journal a little.
That's why there have been a few essay-type posts lately. And that's why this is happening:
She died when I was only 11, so I don't have too many memories of her. But I remember lots of little things.
She always had candy out at her house. Hot tamales, I think, and other things, too.
She made decorative foods, especially cookies. Santa Cookies with sanding sugar beards!
Her house was warm, cozy, inviting and interesting.
There were pristine bedrooms with porcelain dolls in little wicker chairs and giant glass bottles full of matchboxes from different hotels. There were containers filled with hundreds of fortunes, saved from cookies over the years. There were little soaps shaped like seashells.
Everything in the house was lying under 15 layers of paint. She painted and repainted everything when fancy took her.
Her yard was a jungle to a nine year old. There were planter boxes full of different flowers and vegetables with winding dirt paths between them. There were bird baths and bird houses and giant old trees.
One of the trees housed a family of raccoons. Every night after dinner, Baba Lou would set out a little bowl of water, and left overs from dinner. The raccoons would come down to the back door and wash their little paws and then eat.
If she forgot to set out their dinner, they would rap at the glass door with their tiny little fists. As a child, that was the most magical thing I'd ever experienced.
Christmas! I remember her house at Christmas. I'm sure that I've exaggerated the memory in my mind, but as a child it seemed that she had nearly a dozen little trees, each decked with lights and dainty ornaments. A tree with only instruments strung from it. A tree covered in butterflies. A tree covered in the handmade ornaments from her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And garland and bells everywhere. Lights and Christmas music playing.
Even in the dozen years since her death, I still meet people who eagerly tell me stories of how wonderful she was. How kind, how funny, how lovely. Growing up, I wanted to be like her. I wanted people to remember me the way that I remembered her.
I wanted my house to be full of old music, like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. I wanted to always write personal birthday notes and send them in the mail. I wanted to have a cuckoo clock with a train that ran around the outside. I wanted kids to come to my house, and be less interested in watching tv than exploring. I wanted my flour and sugar in glass jars. I wanted to be graceful and delicious smelling. I wanted to make my children pancakes in the morning while wearing a nightgown not my underwear, or husband's sweats. I wanted felt hot-glued to everything, yo.
Who am I kidding? I still want those things. I'm sure that the memory that I have of her has been embellished and perfected, but I don't mind.
My mom recently said, in an off-hand way, "I think you must be channeling the spirit of Baba Lou."
I can't remember what I was doing that made her say that, but I was so pleased and flattered. I think about it all the time.
Another time, a few months ago, a friend asked if I was named after anyone. Then she asked if I felt a "connection to them" at all.
It made me wonder, how much of these things did I try to emulate from my memories and how much would we actually have in common if I didn't remember or care about Baba Lou? Maybe that's like nature vs nurture. Would I love Christmas as much as I do, if I'd been adopted and raised by another family? Who knows? Who cares?
But it did make me start thinking about the boys' names. We named Grey and Micah after their grandfathers, respectively. Grey Christopher and Micah David. My father and father-in-law. At the time, it was for many reasons, like 1. We love our fathers and wanted to show tribute of sorts to them. 2. I love the idea of "family names." 3. We had two boys and two fathers, so it seemed too good to pass up.
But now, I especially love the idea that we named the boys after men that we hope they grow up like.
In each of the boys baby books, I included a very personal page. (Most of their books are exactly the same. "At one month you can do this, and here's a picture of you and your brother." Etc, but they each have half a dozen "personal pages.")
Each boy's book has a paragraph about how I felt the first time I held him, and then it has a paragraph about his name.
For example, Grey's book says something like, "You were named after your Grandpa Chris and we hope that you grow up to emulate his qualities, like passion and creativity, love of his family and willingness to work hard and never give up. Etc."
I love it. As I wrote those paragraphs, I became very aware of the things about my father and father-in-law that I especially love and respect. It helped me realize the things that I want passed on to my boys, things I want to make a point of cultivating. It made me resolve, not only to give the rest of our future kids awesome names, but meaningful family names. I want them to grow up with somebody to look up to and emulate. I want them to copy their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. I want them to have fond memories and cherished old possessions, like 50 year-old handkerchiefs.
And I'm curious if this is just me (lover of old things) or if you were named after someone and feel the same way - a connection and desire to know more about them, and be closer to them. I wonder if you've named your children after people that you respect and love, and if you try to cultivate their best qualities in your children. If you've made it all the way to the end of this long post, please leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts!