For three days the kitchen counter and I ended up covered in flour. With Christmas a few days away I was baking up a storm to provide my brothers and their families with frosted sugar cookie cutouts and raisin-filled cookies. My sister-in-law is partial to gingerbread as am I, so there was a batch of those as well. Then Dad mentioned he’d like to have some mincemeat filled cookies so those were added to the list.

Just for good measure, I threw in a couple of batches of homemade buns.

But that is part of the Christmas traditions I grew up with – homemade goodies and family gathered together.

This year my great-niece turned 2 years old so she’s walking and talking a lot better now. When we were all gathered at my brother’s house she had to show her great-grandpa how she could ride the rocking horse he had built her dad back when he was 2 or 3 years old.

As her dad held her on the seat, she’d rock and say giddy-up and then rocka, rocka. Nephew Zach says she loves riding “Buster” as the horse was named long ago.

Just seeing a new generation enjoy something he had made with his own two hands gave Dad a feeling of joy. He had made a rocking horse for both Zach and my niece, Katie, many years ago. Dad cut all the wood pieces and put it together in his woodshop in the basement and Mom put the mane and tail on the finished horses. I know he made several others for friends’ grandchildren. He figures he made about seven or eight of them all told.

The other item he built for my niece and nephew was a coat rack. It was so they could hang up their clothes or their jackets. The cool thing was that it had pegs in it that you could remove and make the rack taller as the children grew so they could continue to use it.

In conversation the other day I commented to Dad that it would be really nice if someday Vanessa’s children were able to ride Buster. He liked the idea of something he’d made being passed down from one generation to the next.

As I thought about it – passing down something from one generation to the next – I think that is how it is suppose to be but in so many different ways. Mom passed down her love of cooking/baking to me and I cherish that. It brings her to mind each time I make one of her recipes. Dad made various wooden pieces for us that we all treasure. My uncle recently gave me a stool he made, which I love. But beyond all that, they have passed on to all of us kids the importance of family in our lives and faith in our hearts. I hope as the next generations grow they receive those intangible gifts that the generations before have to give.

This month I had the opportunity to attend the Wreaths Across America place evergreen wreaths on the graves of veterans at Beechwoods Cementery in Washington Township, Jefferson County. That ceremony that honors those who have fought and died also reminded me that though gone they are still gifting to all of us the sense of duty, of courage, of honor. In recognizing them, we are reminded of their sacrifices and their achievements. If we only listen – to the generations who have gone before – we will learn the lessons they have to share.

As we look to a new year, those lessons of the past ground us, providing a firm foundation on which to continue to grow and improve. The lessons are not meant to keep things stagnate or as they once were. I think the lessons are to allow us to be better tomorrow than we are today but to still have that solid foundation to uphold us when life’s struggles appear.

I hope “Buster” brings joy to many generations to come. Even more, I hope that wooden rocking horse causes those generations of children to stop and ask about the man and woman who built “Buster” and started him on his journey. I hope they feel that love of family Dad and Mom have always had. What better legacy is there than that?

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