Summer is such a bountiful time and one of the things I love most are all the berries. Starting with strawberries in early June, then raspberries, blueberries, marionberries and finally blackberries. I look forward to them every year and I love to make jam with them. I’m talking hot, sticky, exhausting jam making in the heart of summer heat. Standing over the boiling jam, removing hot jars and lids from their water bath and then processing the fruit syrup into tasty jam. The telltale ping of the jam lid to signify it has sealed properly and can be stored away for the year is immensely satisfying.
In Ecclesiastes 3:13 (ESV), we read, “…also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil-this is God’s gift to man.”
There is a peace in the simplicity of doing things the way our ancestors did them. I feel closer to my Grandma when I am jarring up nature’s goodness to be eaten throughout the year. The tastes of summer enjoyed in the cold snap of winter makes me glad for the works of my hands, my toil.
When I was growing up as the oldest granddaughter, my Grandma was still raising her family. I remember sitting at her elbow watching as she made her famous jam, delicious desserts, fortifying hearty meals, and canned produce and fruit from her garden. Grandma also canned the best cherries I have ever eaten and even taught us how to make our own root beer that was nothing like the root beer you buy at the store. Some of my very best memories are times spent in Grandma’s kitchen. A picture I treasure is of me as a young girl wearing an apron and holding a broom at Grandma’s house.
She had her own raspberry vines and nothing tasted as good as the jam she made from her own berries. There were fights between the kids and their spouses about that jam. Grandpa appointed himself as the keeper of the jam and there is nothing he loved so much as to dole out the jam very sparingly as his son-in-laws looked on with envy. His favorite thing to do was make everyone wait until Christmas, yet he teased for months beforehand about how great it tasted. It was a lively tradition every year to try to outdo each other to win Grandpa’s jam favor.
Watching this as a child every year, I loved how Grandma provided something so enjoyable that the entire family would fight over it! Grandma was artistic and lively and funny in her youth, and in the here and now, with the knowledge that she has Alzheimer’s; I am blessed to remember how she once was, not as she is currently.
Deuteronomy 4:9 (ESV) states, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…”
These things I grew up with are the things I can teach my children and they, in turn, can go on to teach their children also. It is important to remember our heritage and to honor those who have gone before us. Working with integrity, taking care of relatives in need, making do with what you are given, and living with blessing, not complaining – these are some of the heritage items I have seen in my grandparents that I intend to share with my kids.
It does not matter your job title, how much money you made or how big your house may be. These are temporal things of Earth, not the values and character traits that make eternal difference in the lives of others. My grandparents knew of God but did not have personal relationship with Him until much later in life, but they still knew enough to impart values that mattered; values that would be upheld by their children and their children’s children.
Fast forward to some years later: Grandma no longer makes jam, nor is Grandpa with us any longer. And yet, there are still berries to be had and jams to be made. As I make jam every summer, I am linked to my family legacy to something greater than myself and I am providing for my family and friends. When my husband doles out the jam, albeit a little less grudgingly, we all remember Grandpa doing the same with Grandma’s jam and we continue a legacy. My mom is reminded of her mother as she sees her daughter carry on family tradition every time she receives a little jar of love. I think God is honored by this and I want to challenge you to discover something for yourself that you can do in honor of your family legacy.
Ephesians 6:2-3 (ESV) says, “Honor your [grand]father and [grand]mother, (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land,” (emphasis added).