Vellum Memories

There are memories from our past that our hearts call us back to again and again.  They are triggered by inconsequential moments–a song, a taste, a touch, a smell, or even a flash of color–and suddenly we are back, hugging that page of memories close to our chest.  Our minds retreat to a beloved nook in our heart, and we leaf through the fragile vellum pages of a distant memory.  We smile to ourselves at the secret–the unrecreatable happiness that makes our insides quiver–leafing through it again, desperate not to damage the pages.


When we decide we want company in our beloved nook, we always come away disappointed.  No matter how well placed the words, we cannot conjure in the mind of another the feelings only spoken by our hearts.  That language is mutually exclusive–for us alone.  Perhaps akin to the mutterings the Holy Spirit makes on our behalf.


Why is it that the feeling is never as intense in the moment of occurrence as it is when we ponder it from afar?  Are we ungrateful, selfish creatures by nature who cannot know what we have until distance has gilded its edges?  Does prolonged contact with reality, in all its painful forms, make us more appreciative of what we once held with careless ease?  Or is it simply that we have yet to be granted the capacity to truly live in the present?


I don’t know the answers, but I do know that the Christmas season–with all its magical remembrances–always brings these thoughts back to me.  As we unwrap cherished ornaments from our childhood, bake cookies from our grandmothers’ time-honored recipes, walk by the piney freshness of our Christmas trees, and sing songs that teachers from long ago wrote on our memories–I pray that you’ll take the time to retreat to your inner nook and cherish the time-worn pages.


{The first two pictures in this post are from last Christmas, when we were in Seattle.  We went on a hike in the mountains and cut down our own tree…as hilarious as the end result was 🙂  If you’d care to see more, you can find that post here.

This Christmas, since Jeremiah couldn’t create a memory in a snow-covered wood, he decided we’d (along with Popon–his Dad–who has the buggy and the Clydesdales) hitch up the horse and buggy and drive a couple of miles to our local tree dealer.  That’s the second two pictures.  Since this post is about how memories are always more beautiful in the past than the present moment, I’ll show you some of the more “real” shots from the day too :)}


We were on back country roads MOST of the time, but as we approached the intersection with a four lane highway, I started to feel a little uneasy. Took some faith to trust those horses to stop on red!


Pretty sure this farmer thought we had lost our ever-loving minds as we pulled into his establishment by buggy.


However, he was in the process of making cane syrup the old fashioned way, so maybe he understood our intentions a little bit.



I just finished reading Little House in the Big Woods to the girls, so it was pretty amazing to show them the process first hand--and let them taste the fresh squeezed cane juice.


What it would have become after Ma boiled it down.


Jeremiah and I decided that once through a busy intersection with small children and a pregnant wife was enough excitement for one day. The second time through, Jeremiah walked out in front of the wagon--not sure if he was planning to one arm the on-coming traffic in case of emergency, or what?


Not a site you see EVERY day.


He jumped back in on the other side of the red light. (That's Mrs. Ohs, by the way. Our dear friend who Jeremiah lived with for a year in Montana--still sipping on her cane juice.)


And we put the girls back in for the country roads home. Wonder what adventure he'll come up with for our Christmas tree next year 🙂

15 Responses to “Vellum Memories”

  1. Kellie says:

    Oh Abby! What sweet moments and memories! I, just this morning, posted the following quote on my facebook page: “Wherever you are, be all there” ~Jim Elliot – how appropriate for this Holiday season – live in the moment and cherish it all!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    You said that perfectly – oh yes. Leafing through those pages – and no, “we cannot conjure in the mind of another the feelings only spoken by our hearts. ” – your words. Christmas does indeed draw us back. I’m 60, with grandchildren, and I still have conversations with Mother and Daddy and look into the recesses of my mind and heart – not with wanting it back – but just wanting to touch it – leaf through it – and my grandchildren enable me to go back to that place when my girls were small – I think we keep the best in our hearts that might resemble our true home – in eternity –

  3. Emily says:

    What a beautifully worded post! You capture our thoughts perfectly.

  4. Emily says:

    What a beautiful post, Abby! i remember your Christmas post from last year … I was in awe of the beauty of God’s creation and the fun! This year’s was just as memorable! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Nancy says:

    I just adore your blog & look forward to reading about your memories! If you lived in Alabaster, I’d take you to lunch!! 🙂

  6. Molly says:

    This was both beautiful and hilarious! I love reading your words.

  7. Susie in Texas says:


    You are such a treat to read, and I am so excited when I
    see a new post!!! Usually, what you say makes me tear up.
    Always so profound , always touching my heart!!
    God bless you and your beautiful family.
    PS, a big blessing for the dogs too!!

  8. Taylor says:

    Abby, forget sharing the road — i know you hate bikers — taking over the road on horse and buggy is much more reasonable.
    I wish you could have captured facial expressions of those in cars alongside you.

  9. Melissa says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post and your sweet blog! I happened across The Storywood several months ago and have enjoyed reading every single post. Sometimes it feels like you are writing exactly what I have been thinking and I know it is the Lord, using you in a mighty way. I don’t know you, but I wanted to let you know you have inspired and encouraged me so much! Blessings to you and your family!

  10. Farrie says:

    Abby. You and Jeremiah are making so many memories for those precious little girls. Hope you are feeling OK and I am sure you have all the boxes unpacked and everything in it’s place by now so you can start blogging again. We miss you when we can’t read about the special times of your life and what God is doing in the lives of all of you. Hope to see you soon.

  11. lori says:

    That looked like soo much fun. It looks like country there, so maybe it wasn’t so surprising. Always look forward to your posts

  12. Susan says:

    The post you referenced in this post was the first one I read on your blog, one year ago. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts on so much of life. I hope one day to meet you!

  13. Heather says:

    Beautifully written Abby. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holidays. xo

  14. andi says:

    Wonderful fun! I would of had a panic attack on the four lane!!!! lol. vellum is a good description,the material is hazy but creates a softness. memories are softer than the actual experience, and more delicate but so good. you are a dear friend! pace had a wonderful time (she told me about it!)and i dare say, she will treasure the memory forever!

  15. Laura Stronach says:

    I am always fascinated by your adventures and faith! You all have such a beautiful outlook on family and fellowship that most people miss in our superficial society. The simple things in life are truly the best and most savored. We miss you all and wish you all the best. Thanks for making us all laugh and ponder on what life is all about.

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