“Our Family Heritage Month,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 69
March seemed to be the perfect month to choose as heritage month.
I pulled our artificial Christmas tree from the closet and set it up.
“This is no longer a Christmas tree,” I announced to our six children. “Now it is a family tree.” To prove the point I made a small sign and put it on top of the tree. It read, Meade Family Tree.
My husband and I had decided we would tell a story about an ancestor each night. After the story, one of the children would put a small memento on the tree in honor of that person.
On the first family night in March, we had a Scandinavian dinner in honor of our Swedish ancestors. We filled ourselves with rice cream, sweet cabbage, and Swedish meatballs. The children learned how Great-Grandpa Nelson had sailed from Sweden in a small wooden ship that was caught in a great storm.
We told the story of how Grandpa Solomon, an orphan, supported himself from the age of 10 by herding sheep. We made sheep with poster board and cotton. We imagined how it would be to hear coyotes howling at night if you were only 10 years old. The next day when I looked at the tree, I found a homemade coyote lurking in the branches.
We followed the trail of the Mormon Battalion and pictured Great-Grandpa Harris walking from Iowa to California at the age of 17 with a case of the mumps. A picture of an old pair of shoes went on the tree for him.
By the end of March the tree was covered with trinkets and flags.
On Easter we included the heritage we had received from the Savior. We told the story of the Resurrection and then ended the day with a Jewish-style dinner.
Heritage month has become a tradition in our family. The heritage tree comes out each March and goes back in the box after Easter. The stories, however, linger. They have become part of our lives and have helped us realize who we are. Those stories also have given us strength in difficult times and have given us the courage to laugh our way through problems we have faced.
Joan Meade, Ephraim Third Ward, Ephraim Utah Stake