Calendar for Yesterdays

By Debbie Davidson

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    Turn your hearts toward your parents—Generations gone before. … seal and bind them To your hearts forevermore (Hymns, no. 291).

    It was a typical Olsen family home evening. Mother played the piano while little Christopher waved his arm and led everyone in “The Golden Plates.” After Amanda gave the opening prayer, Dad stood to give the lesson. “Who remembers what we did at the Olsen family reunion last summer?” he asked.

    “Watched home movies!” Julie cried out. Then she giggled, thinking about Uncle Jack dancing the hula in Hawaii.

    “Ran races!” Amanda chimed in, remembering her Best Effort award.

    “Corn on the cob!” Christopher yelled, and everyone laughed.

    “That’s true,” Dad said. “Now who remembers what Uncle Bob asked us to do?”

    Scott frowned. “Not family history,” he groaned.

    “Very good,” Dad said. “Uncle Bob challenged each family to do something new with our family history.”

    “But, Dad,” Julie countered, “Uncle Bob said that the only research left had to be done overseas.”

    “Do we get to go to Europe?” Amanda asked excitedly.

    “Sorry, Pumpkin,” Dad answered. “I think that research is out. We’ll have to be more creative than that.”

    “There’s nothing creative about family history,” Scott complained. “It’s just a bunch of old names and dates.”

    “Well, when Joseph Smith first saw the golden plates,” Mom noted, “it was just a bunch of old markings until he translated them.”

    “That was different,” Scott said. “The Book of Mormon was important, so Heavenly Father helped him translate it.”

    “Family history is important, too,” Dad persisted, holding up his book of remembrance. “Maybe we just need help to translate ours.”

    Julie looked puzzled. “What do you mean, Dad?”

    “Translate means to make something understandable,” Dad explained. “Maybe we need to translate our records into something more than just names and dates.”

    “Aw, Dad,” Scott said, picking up a family group sheet. “There’s nothing here except—Hey, I never noticed that!” He pointed, staring at an entry.

    “What?” Amanda said, looking over her brother’s shoulder.

    “This guy, Jacob Olsen, was born on October fourth, just like me.”

    “That ‘guy,’” Mom said, “was your great-grandpa. He was really happy that you were born on his birthday.”

    “I don’t remember him,” Scott said.

    “He died when you were just a baby,” Dad explained. “He really liked it when we took you to visit him.”

    “His family had two boys and two girls in it, just like ours,” Julie noticed. “But look—the last one died the day that she was born.”

    “November fifteenth,” Dad said without having to look. “Grandpa told me that his sister was born prematurely and was just too tiny to live. But they always remembered Baby Annie and put a rosebud on her grave every November fifteenth.”

    “That must have been a sad day,” Julie said quietly.

    “It was,” Dad agreed. “But it was happy too. It reminded them that they had a sister they could see again someday.”

    “I wonder,” Amanda said, “if anyone remembers Baby Annie now?”

    “We can!” Scott put in. “Can’t we, Mom?”

    “I think that that would be nice,” Mom said, smiling. “I’ll just mark November fifteenth on our calendar.”

    “And write down Grandpa Olsen’s birthday, too,” Scott suggested.

    “But at the end of the year,” Julie realized aloud, “we’ll just throw the calendar away and forget them.”

    “Then I guess that we need another way to remember,” Mom said, going into the next room. “How about this?” she asked when she returned. “We never used this old 1988 calendar. I didn’t know why I was saving it, but it must have been for this project. And since it was a leap year, it even has February twenty-ninth on it, in case we need it.”

    “But it’s two years old,” Julie said, giggling.

    “That doesn’t matter,” Dad said. “We need a calendar for yesterdays, not tomorrows.”

    “I get it!” Scott said. “We can remember our ancestors’ important days on that calendar, just like we remember our own important days on our current one. What other dates can we write on it?”

    “Well, between Mom’s records and mine, there surely are enough of them here!” Dad laughed, thumbing through the pages. “How about if we study one family every week, then put all their birthdays and weddings and deaths on the calendar?”

    “Starting with Jacob Olsen,” Scott proclaimed, eagerly turning to the October page. “Dad, do you think he enjoyed his birthday as much as I do mine?”

    “I’m sure that he did,” Dad said. “Do you still think that family history is just a bunch of old names and dates?”

    “I guess not,” Scott readily admitted. “At least, not after we translate them into people.”

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney