When I was a little girl (less than 10 years old) we lived in a small town near Madison, New Jersey. The "we" was my mother and father, the brother closest in age to me, and for a while, my middle brother.
My mother had a friend up the street from us whom she visited from time to time. I accompanied her on the visits occasionally, and since Mother's friend was childless, she was kind to me. When she discovered I enjoyed polishing silver, she always asked me to polish some of hers and made me feel I was doing very well at something extremely special and important for her. Once she showed me three little carved wooden figures from the Black Forest region of Germany. Oh, did I adore those figures and my mother's friend.
When my father died and we moved away, Mother's friend gave me those little figures both as a way to remember her and to help me through a difficult time. I still have them, and when I told D about them and explained what they meant to me, he started looking for more of these folk art carvings. Now in our living room there is a display of those figures . . .
With one some additions including another very special, very meaningful addition. Last year, my sister-in-law E sent a Christmas card that featured a copy of her painting of her parents village in Germany. It's full of her love for her family and pride in her background. That makes it special to me. And to have those memories visible at this time of year makes them - well, almost glow with their own light.