Some traits are a matter of cultivation, breeding, careful study and diligent hard work. Other traits are passed from one generation to the next through the genes. Still other traits we seem to pick up along the way, collected as souvenirs of a trip we remember only in moments.
As I understand it, one of the best traits I’ve managed to pass along to both of my young daughters is the ability to form the tongue into a taco shape. Tongue rolling has been the stimulus of several research studies that have concluded that tongue-rolling is somewhere between a genetic trait and a learned skill. I proudly parent two tongue-rollers. This skill will doubtlessly come in handy if they should ever be short a really short straw.
My grandmother is not technically my grandmother, she’s stepmother to my dad. It’s not likely that she and I will share many characteristics, as we share no DNA. We have shared one very special gift, however. When I was young (9 or 10), she took a trip to North Carolina and ended up having a piece of furniture she found there shipped home.
It is a beautiful piece, carved tendrils of wood, wrapping themselves up and around a mirror on the cabinet into which folds a 3/4 bed frame. The bed is probably early 20th century, from the marks inside. I was enchanted by it. I imagined that it was a secret hiding place, a time machine, a gateway to worlds beyond. She let me sleep on it. In the morning, we shut it up and that’s how it stayed.
A couple of years ago, she called me. She wanted me to have the bed. It had warped shut, but she’d had it repaired and since I was the only one of her children or grandchildren to have slept on the bed, she wanted it to be mine. I don’t share her looks, her genetic predispositions, her blood, but I have shared this gift with her, our special bond.
Passing them down
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:11
I’m more interested in the non-genetic traits I pass on to my children. The gifts I give don’t have to be material, but they should be thoughtful and intentional. I want to give them a good foundation. My grandmother didn’t give me a bed, she gifted me with a magical escape route, a portal to the past, an element of imagination.
What good gifts have you received from your family? What good gifts do you plan to pass down to your children?