I love collecting relics from yesteryear. I have big collections of things like pictures which are over a century old and royal memorabilia that dates back to the early days of Victoria’s reign but I also have random things like a ration book from World War II and a plate from 1914. I like that these are little personal snapshots of the history we study and others experienced. Yes, I enjoy reading about how Victoria came to the throne but I LOVE the fact that I can hold a tea cup that was created to celebrate the anniversary of that moment. I love that over 150 years ago someone held this piece of pottery and now I can hold it. To me it’s like time travel. A bit of someone else’s life story.
I also love the sentimental relics that are personal to me. My grandmother’s sewing machine. The one I spent hours sitting next to watching her create magic beyond belief. The one that currently sits in my bedroom inspiring me to create magic of my own. A barrette that was owned by my great grandmother and is worth absolutely nothing but to me is a tangible link to a woman I’ve heard many stories about but never had the chance to meet. My daddy’s letterman jacket and my mother’s wedding gown. Even a headstone, that belonged to my great great great grandmother, that to me, is a lovely, tangible legacy of an ancestor.
I remember my grandmother telling stories about December 7, 1941 and who among us hasn’t heard someone ask, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”. I, myself, have begun teaching about 9/11 in similar ways because this isn’t an event my high school kiddos lived through. To them, all of this is just history but to us it is part of our story just like Pearl Harbor was part of my grandmother’s and I like that little relics can bring history alive for those who didn’t experience it. Help us learn and not forget.
Here’s the thing. We are creating relics for the future all the time and much like my coveted ration book, I wonder what relics will come out of this moment and what stories they will tell. I know many of ours will be digital. Not letters or documents but Facebook post, website announcements and videos that reflect the fear and unknown of 2020 but show the resilience and creativity of mankind. So, what relics of this historic moment will you leave behind for future generations?
Maybe that journal of the spring of 2020 will fascinate your great grandchildren just as the stories of the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 fascinated us? Maybe the State themed mask I made for my friend will be kept in a box and be brought out when she tells stories of the trying times at the hospital and how they overcame the uncertainty and unknowns. I can only imagine that there will be millions of highlighted and written in Bibles that show the faithfulness of God for years to come. Even Tik Toks will become brilliant mementos for future generations to admire and puzzle over.
So as we go about our strange quarantined days, ask yourself what relics can you leave behind to tell your specific story during this time? What do you want future generations to remember and learn? Let’s make our mark on history, even if it is just in a tiny, tangible way.