In summer 2001, our family buried a time capsule that will be dug up on the 100th anniversary of our family property, in 2041. The time capsule was part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of this property, in Quebec, Canada. It was bought by my grandparents when they were transferred for a few years to Montreal for my grandfather’s work. Having fled Russia during the Revolution in 1917, my grandparents made their way to France where they settled for several years and eventually moved to the United States and became American citizens.
During their years in Montreal, they purchased a small farmhouse reminding them of Russia – same birch trees, forests of mushrooms, bushes of berries, wild nature along a pristine lake. During the summers, my grandmother would take her three children and settle there for the summer, followed by my grandfather. There was no electricity, toilets, nor running water and mostly dirt roads. They had found their piece of heaven and word spread among the numerous cousins who had also emigrated from Russia to New York. Every summer, cousins made their way to Quebec and families came and rotated among the three bedrooms, bringing with them litres of vodka, packages of cigarettes, their humour, their voices, their singing and their full Russia souls. They even built a small Russian Orthodox chapel and among our relatives, we had priests and the choir developed naturally. It was a “mini Russia,” with a strong set of values, among the Canadian wilderness.
Seventy four years later, we continue to drink vodka, pick our mushrooms, make jams, we congregate in our Chapel, we have our own priests, we are the choir, and we swim in the still pristine lake. Every Saturday evening, we come together in our house and share vodka, eat “zakouski” (hors- d’oeuvres) and sing our Russian songs. We now have about 12 houses on the property and we average 80 cousins at the height of the summer. We do have running water, flushing toilets, paved roads, electricity and most houses chose to have Internet, however, still no mobile reception.
The time capsule is buried close to our Chapel and every house has a copy of a primitive looking map (similar looking to Peter Pan’s) indicating its exact location. The time capsule is an actual thick, bolted-down sewer pipe and cousins of all ages contributed by filling it with loving letters, favourite small stuffed animals or personal momentos of their choice. As a symbolic gesture, we each threw handfuls of earth on it, like a burial. I look forward to opening the capsule when I am 73 years old with my husband and children and all our cousins.
Life is gift. My grandparents gave us an incredible gift. A place where we can all come too every summer, reflect on our last year(s), reconnect with cousins, celebrate life and share our traditions. Our family’s time capsule is a symbol of faith, love, family and continuity based on our family values.
What are your family values, traditions or symbols? Email me yours at firstname.lastname@example.org, would be curious about yours.
(c) 2018 Anna Jankovich, all rights reserved.