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Pathways Through Our Past

Those first early years

You know spring is here when the invitations for graduation and weddings begin to arrive. It makes a person wonder what to give as a gift.

For the youth, graduation marks the end to one of the most important parts of their lives. There is no going back nor would they want to. Suddenly they are of age.

It's a very scary time for parents when the child is cutting the apron strings and making plans of their own. Will they be going on to further schooling, enter the service of their country or maybe get married? Surely they are not old enough to do any of those things.

Why it was only yesterday you held their hand when crossing the street, or maybe leading their steer around the ring at the fair. Where did all those years go? But you're not alone. The parents of your child's friends are going through the same thing. So what do you do?

You make plans for your child's party to fit in with their friends' party. Everyone wants to go to all the parties. You buy a handful of graduation cards and make a stop at the bank to get money to put in the cards. Money is all you can think of to give as gifts. As they start out on their life, they choose money as it fits the best.

You get to the party at the neighbor's and you see your child's friends grouped together and you see young adults instead of those kids who came trick-or-treating just last Halloween and you really see them for what they are -- now grown ups who have to live by the decisions they are making for the rest of their lives.

Years ago graduation was more of a family affair with mom dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins attending. Handmade items were given. A new suit of clothing might be given if the son or daughter was going on to school or getting married after graduation.

A handmade quilt was a cherished gift. They could take it to school or to their new home. Or maybe the gift was a young cow and calf to help a young man or a couple start a herd of their own. A girl had what was called a hope chest. In this box or trunk were items she had learned to make with help from family members. Each itemwas special because of the person who gave it or helped make it. Some of these items traveled half way across the country where the owner was called to teach in a new settlement or a couple moved to start a place of their own.

Canned goods was another gift. When the food was eaten, the jar could be used over and over again. Sometimes a young couple moved in with their grandmother or grandpa to help out and when the older generation could no longer take care of the place, it was passed on to the young folks.

Cash money was in short supply and a person did not get a handful of cards containing money. Even a few years ago, a watch was a special graduation gift. Now little kids under 10 years of age have a watch by the time they enter school.