The Black Walnut Grenade


There is a blending that happens between a husband and his wife. He has his traditions from his upbringing and she has hers. Both are valid, good, meaningful and important. Decisions must come when picking and choosing which, if not all, will be continued on into their newly made family.

It’s work to blend so perfectly into the family you see yourselves as. It takes conversation, compromise and understanding to make this newly made family what God would have it.

HH and I are no different. While we recently celebrated our 14th anniversary, I thought back to the many times we disagreed on which traditions, from which family we would continue on in our own childrens’ lives. It wasn’t easy. Nor should it be. God depends on both spouses to work effectively and in unity to uphold old family traditions, and/or make new ones for your children.

I admit, it is something quite special to tell stories of my childhood years of my own grandparents doing this or that, and how special it really is, to remember them, to pray for them as the children look up at me, wide-eyed, that somehow, I have lived some different, exotic existence to theirs.

It teaches them something. It tells them where they come from. It gives them a history. And that is important. We work to re-tell the important stories of their grandparents and great-grandparents, even aunts and uncles, to ensure they have a good sense of the kind of families we came from, and the kind of family they have now. Not all stories are age appropriate, of course, yet there is something unique and unifying to tell these tales, laugh together, cry together, or try and understand some complexities that can exist in family life.

It could be as simple as a potato salad recipe. I have this recipe, you see, from my mother-in-law, for potato salad, and the day she gave it to me, she told me the story of her father creating this taste of potato perfection, blending all the necessary ingredients. Each time we make this recipe, and I have some children in the kitchen, I make a point to tell the story to them as well. And then we pray for the repose of this man’s soul, whose gift of perfecting this recipe, has blessed my home for years now. My children will know of their great-grandfather, from the stories we tell of him. They will have the instinct to pray for those deceased who still have an impact on our lives, through this little index card with ingredients.

Today, my little Babe and I continued another family tradition, albeit seen as strange and unusual, the collection, cleaning, husking and cracking black walnuts. My grandfather, would yearly, collect these messy black walnuts, husk them, and crack hundreds if not thousands every year and give the results of his labor, these little black walnut pieces as Christmas gifts to his children. Growing up with this family tradition, it seemed normal, it seemed perfectly acceptable to go through this messy, laborious task for such a little, yet tasty reward.

The first time I realized not everyone collects and husks these little treasures, was when my darling HH admitted to me that when he was young, they used them as grenades when battling it out with his brothers in their backyard, having no idea that anyone would actually eat these nuts.

The horror!

For years now, we have scoured the local areas to find the most ripe collection spots, with little reward. Our collections have dwindled over the years, and this year, this fall, I have seen more black walnut trees full of these baseball sized treats! I’ve waited patiently, as the cooler weather will drop these prizes to the ground for the scavengers to rejoice in. Thankfully, Babe and I went out today, working to beat the squirrels to the punch.

The whole family gets involved, in the husking, and cleaning….and every year, the children ask me again, why do we bother with this, if we can simply buy black walnuts at the store.

Yes I know, children, it seems weird, and a strange way to spend our time. However, we remember a man who did this for his own children. We pray for the man who valued hard work above so many other things. We pray for this man who taught me and many others how important it is to treasure this little treat that we put into Mom’s baking, because we worked hard for it. He taught me gratitude and still teaches it, even to you.

Not everything should come easy. We learn gratitude by hard work. I appreciate it, because it took my sweat, my time, my heart. There is no shame in that. There is a recognition that if I work hard enough, I can accomplish what I set out to do, and with that, comes a gratefulness that is sorely lacking in a world filled with the attitude of entitlement.

Our family histories can teach our children so many valuable lessons, if we allow it, if we re-create it. It takes work on our part, of course, yet when your child comes to you, finally understanding what hard work and determination can yield, even if it’s dirty, smelly and tedious, then you have a child who will always know gratitude.

These lessons are priceless. You can’t buy these stories, you have them already, locked away in your memory. Let your children in, teach them what you learned from your own life experiences, give them an identity that only you can give them. They want to know, not only who you are, but who they are. You won’t be sorry, you’ll be continuing the great work started generations ago, as far back as genealogy will take you. You’ll be sharing the lessons of those before you, to those in front of you, so that by each passing generation, there is more love, more virtue.

We need not re-create the wheel. What has taught us, can teach them. Bring it to life, bring it to your children, talk with them, listen to their questions and ultimately put it all in the hands of God. He brought this husband together with this wife, to ultimately bring two families together, those traditions, those lessons learned in order to shape the next generation. It’s up to us to act.

So grab your grenade! The meat inside your memories are little treasures, that God choose for your children!

Copyright 2011 Sahmatwork


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