I am looking at a photograph. It is Christmas Eve. I am three years old. Dressed in a red velvet dress with three white buttons, white tights wrinkled at the knees, and scuffed moccasins. There is a brand new tricycle in front of me. Chrome and fat black tires and sky blue painted metal. Wide blue seat and black pedals, waiting for me to climb on and GO!
Behind me, sitting on my Nana’s sectional couch, looking at the camera and smiling, are my Mom, Nana, Dad, two of my uncles and one of my aunts. My Papa is taking the picture. Family.
I don’t remember this specific Christmas Eve, but I do remember my tricycle. I can hear the crunch of the gravel under its wheels as I ride it down our driveway, feel the push of the pedals against the sneakers on my feet. Feel the pull on the handlebars as I manoeuver over the grassy middle hump in the driveway. If I go too slow, I’ll get stuck halfway and have to put my feet on the ground to push me and my tricycle over to the other side.
I know the people, my family, around me in this old photo. Know and feel and recall them the way I recall my tricycle. I know the sound of their steps on the floor, the feel of their arms around me, the push and pull of our time spent together.
My inheritance is right here in my hands, in this photograph of a Christmas Eve. These people, my memories, this is my inheritance. The remembered feel of hands in hands. The remembered sound of voices, talk, and laughter. What I have experienced and learned in the embrace of my days with them.
This is my inheritance. Love. Connection. A place to stand. Memories that carry me into happiness, peace, acceptance of my life just as it is.
Thank you for these gifts.
Thanks to my brother Paul and my Uncle Allan for collecting the family slides and photos, and digitizing them so they can be shared.