On instagram over the last few months I've been sharing some of my favorite family photos every Thursday.  I didn't really think much of it when I started it, but I have loved remembering some of my family's stories that go along with each photo.  I decided to share Christmas themed photos this month.  I shared a photo from my mother childhood for the first Thursday of the month:

I shared photos of one of my childhood family Christmas traditions last week: 

For this week's favorite family photo, I had more to say than what instagram would allow in a caption so I decided to share it here. 

In March of 2013 The New York Times published an article written by Bruce Feiler about the impact that knowing one's own family history can help young people be more resilient in coping with their own struggles. You should read it. It's super cool. In the article they use the term "intergenerational self" making the argument that children who have the most self-confidence have a strong sense of it. "They know they belong to something bigger than themselves." 

This particular photo was taken at Christmas time in 1964 -the end of a very difficult year for my Dad's family. Earlier that year they lost their home in Midway, Utah due to foreclosure. With the help of my great-grandparents they were able to obtain some land in Montana. During the move family members were separated from each other for some time.  Some in Utah making preparations for the move and others, in Montana, preparing for the arrival of the rest of the family. Feeling utterly defeated, my grandpa referred to the family's move to Montana as "Operation Survival" in his journal. Possibly partly in jest but mostly not. 

When they got to Montana in the fall, they started building what would be their new home while they lived in a tent. Literally.  It was a very cold winter. After snow started falling they would have to heat and thaw out the logs and 2x4s they were using before starting work on the house each morning. They didn't often have much variety in food other than wheat and beans. To say they had a lot of hardships may be an understatement. 

But they had faith in God and saw many blessings. After the family fasted and prayed for help a friend sent them a Christmas card with a check for $100. On December 12th they finished the kitchen (well, mostly but you can see in the photo that they still had plastic sheeting up in place of window panes) of the home and they were all (11 of them) able to start sleeping indoors near the heat of the stove.  

Their Christmas that year may have been meager -their tree was cut down from off their own property, gifts weren't spectacular by any means, and my dad said that they may or may not have eaten illegally-hunted venison for their Christmas dinner.  But they felt blessed by the kindness and generosity of friends, extended family, and relative strangers in their new LDS branch family. Another thing they were all grateful for is that the oldest son in the family (who'd recently been married) was able to visit with his new wife.  Mostly they were happy about being together as a family. Isn't that what Christmas is about? 

Knowledge of their hardships may explain some of the more serious looks on some of the faces than what you'd expect in a Christmas photo. This picture means a lot to me and as the article I mentioned earlier says, it helps me to have a better understanding of my "intergenerational self." 

Pictured: my father, his mother, siblings, and new sister-in-law. Photo credit: my grandpa. Scanned by: @marknott. #bridgettsfavoritefamilyphotos #savefamilyphotos #familyhistory #Christmas #Christmasof1964 #intergenerationalself #youshouldgetaprizeforreadingallthewaytotheend

If you are interested in more of these kinds of posts, you can follow my instagram.  My instagram name is @hellobridgett.