Pop and The Hinky Dinky

by Stefani on 7-August-2007

With our first son, we had a middle name picked out well before we had a first name decided. My husband is Eric Charles, after his grandfather, Charles Thomas, aka Pop. It was a no brainer, our boy would be _____ Charles. (General Charles? Major Charles? River Charles? Peabody Earnest Hemmingway Poe Charles? 🙂

Not too long after our Luke Charles arrived, I asked his grandmother if she would mind jotting down some memories of his namesake and scrounging up a few photos for his baby book. She obliged, and because I had no idea what to do after that, they’ve been tucked away for some 6 years now, as memories often are.

I have been longing for a while though to figure out some way to make my boys’ heritage more real to them, to drag the photos and heirlooms out of hiding and make them a part of our everyday life. Only, I haven’t been real sure how to help such little people understand the power and importance of family that to them, are simply stern black and white images of strangers. Your father’s mother’s father…. your father’s mother’s sister’s uncle’s friend’s neighbor?

I think though, that I might have finally come up with something that could work well for our family. Something that I think will hold some tangible meaning for little people.

I bought a mini scrapbook, and we put Pop’s photo in the hole on the cover. I slowly read over the notes that Grandmother had made for Luke, pausing to hear their questions and thoughts. (What are ammunitions? – after hearing that he worked in factory during World War II. What is carpentry? – after hearing that he learned this skill from his father.)


The boys chose the parts that they deemed important and dictated them for me. (just ignore the cruddy handwriting please… it’s the thought, right?) They added their own illustrations.

Pop's Book

A few things spoke to my men:

They noted that he had all girls, and while he loved all four, he was very excited to welcome a grandson. “Mommy maybe we’ll have some girls for you to play with.” (Or grandsons, I said, spoiling grandsons would be wonderful too!)

Pop owned a small but very popular store, the “Hinky Dinky.” They thought this was super cool, so we spent half the day playing store. They put price tags on everything within reach. They gave thought to their inventory and marketing. They decided to open a lunch counter. They debated whether or not they would make customers pay to use the restrooms. They connected, in some small way with their Pop’s life.

They also noted that Pop used to like to get all his family together and grill burgers. Most important, and endearing in their eyes, he LOVED ice cream, especially peach. In fact, he gave their Daddy his first ever taste of the stuff.

So, of their own volition, they decided that we needed to find a good recipe for peach ice cream, make some burgers, and invite Grandmother over to see our book and share more stories about Pop.

Bingo! I think we’re getting it!

Their Daddy remembered that Pop liked to carry around M&Ms in his pocket and sometimes even mailed him a small package of the candies. The boys really liked this idea and thought it would be fun to carry on the tradition by making little packages of M&Ms for their most loved friends and family. (Note how our memory making seems inextricably linked to our tastebuds)


We’re calling them Popgrams. Cuz you know, they need a catchy name.

We’re going to hang the book on a plate rack in our hall, so that we can see it everyday and get it down easily when we need a little Pop moment. We’re planning to fill that wall with lots of other little books about lots of other family members and memories.

The idea is to give our boys tangible ways to connect with loved ones, real touch-and-feel hooks on which to hang their memories. In that way, I hope that they will really understand the love, sacrifices, dreams and hard work that resulted in their being here, now. I hope that it will help them to know that they belong to something bigger than just this moment.

I think it’s working, because tonight at dinner, my James prayed, “Thanks, God, for Pop being a good Dad to Grandmother, so she could be a good Mom for our Daddy, so he would know how to take care of us.” And while we were eating, after his words had time to resonate, he said, “Mama kindness kind of spreads down in families, huh?”

There are so many days and moments when I think maybe I’ve gotten things all wrong, and then there are these merciful golden gems that make me think maybe we’re doing something a little bit right. If he takes away only that one thing, that the love he shows today will flow down through generations, that is enough for me.

So tell me, what are the simple, everyday ways that you help your kids connect with their heritage?

Sarah Jackson August 7, 2007 at 9:20 pm

What a wonderful day and a lovely way to connect with the past. In our house, we have tons of old photos, both on the walls and in albums and books, as well as small objects that were theirs. The kids all “know” the great grandparents who have passed away through talking about the photos and telling the stories that go with them, through playing dress up with Grandma Nori’s beaded handbag and Grandpa Harvey’s hat. We hang the copper jello molds on the wall of the kitchen. We use the old sayings – “3 right turns are the same as a left.” This summer we went to my grandma’s cabin at the coast, purchased when my mother was pregnant with me. We sat at the same table and played the same games and ate from the same plates that have been there for the last 40 years. Those connections are so powerful, especially now while we live far away from home and all of its memories. Thanks for making me think about those things again.

Jessicah August 8, 2007 at 12:43 am

This is a lovely post and I love the sentiments. How wonderful that you are helping your children connect with their past- and helping yourself too probably. I’m not yet at the little people in my life stage but this will definately be filed away for later. I think I fall more into the catergory of your boys- my Grandad is a great geaneologist (sp) and I would love to know more about my families history, but I often get overwhelmed by the volume of people/places/faces to learn, it all gets so confusing as soon as you delve back a few generations. Maybe the next chance I get I can get Grandad to put it all into more tangible terms for me. Thankyou for getting me to think about this 🙂

meg August 8, 2007 at 4:11 am

Oh, I love this so much!! The book is a treasure, and the way your kids latched onto the stories, well, it’s wonderful. I want to do something like this for my son and have been at a loss. Thanks for sharing!

Heather August 8, 2007 at 4:14 am

I love it! We tell lots of embelished stories about family… the things they do and love. My dad’s mother was born on a farm… we plant with “pop pop” in the spring and talk about the food his family raised. By the way… we have a children’s song that my kids love. I don’t know that name of it, but the chorus is “hinky dinky dee!” I may have to burn it and send it to you guys… any interest?

dana August 8, 2007 at 5:13 am

Wowza girl! You are a great mama!

Leigh-Ann August 8, 2007 at 6:41 am

oh Stefani! you amaze me more and more! this is so rich!! your boys are so BLESSED!!! wonderful family love!

Natasha August 8, 2007 at 6:41 am

Such a great post, heart felt. My favorite: “Mama kindness kind of spreads down in families, huh?” Precious.

beki August 8, 2007 at 6:51 am

I say that you’re definitely doing things right! What a winderful idea. Your boys are so lucky to have you as their mama. I guess because my family is so young, I never thought much about passing things like this down. I need to get on the ball!

kari August 8, 2007 at 6:57 am

WHat a beautiful idea. It makes me want to rush out and get my old family photos and do something similar.

Anne August 8, 2007 at 7:49 am

I have been looking for ways to teach my children about their ancestors and this is a wonderful idea. Pictures are always good, but the stories of M&Ms and peach ice cream are priceless.

jen t August 8, 2007 at 8:09 am

thank you for sharing this. i often struggle with ways to connect my children to their ancestors and i’m inspired by your ideas. we have been so fortunate on my side of the family to have, up until april all of my children’s great-grandparents still living. My son is isaac nathaniel named for his great-grampa nathaniel who passed this spring. funny, lucy and isaac’s great-grampa duffy always has m & m’s too and my kids still call him “the nummy-num guy” from back when lucy couldn’t say m & m clearly.

Molly August 8, 2007 at 8:24 am

I love this idea. Your memory wall is going to be beautiful! I have been collecting neck ties from different family members for a project in Aidan’s room. I look forward to telling him who wore each tie. My kids are always asking for stories about when we were kids, and I have been encouraging them to ask other family members the same question. Maybe we will be able to stear our children back towards oral storytelling as a way to connect between generations.

estea August 8, 2007 at 11:41 am

don’t mind me, i’m just a bit verklempt.

so wonderful, so good.

we are lucky to still have all the grandparents, and I think my kiddos are getting a pretty good notion of their country (some might say redneck;) heritage, ’cause every time they come back from a week with my parents they 1)won’t wear shoes, 2)can out-spit me, 3)beg to go fishing EVERY DAY, 4)beg for chickens EVERY DAY (we might actually be doing this one), 5)get all wistful telling me about granny’s blackberry cobbler, 6)declare we must hang all the clothes on the line every day in any kind of weather (like granny does), 7)tell me all about how they helped Grampa and Uncle plant potatoes/feed a calf/gather eggs/clean a fish/finish off the peach pie on the back porch listening to the Cardinal’s game on the radio.


brit August 8, 2007 at 4:22 pm

this post made me feel all warm and snuggly. thanks.

erin August 8, 2007 at 7:18 pm

sweet stories and wonderful ideas, stefani!

Ellie August 9, 2007 at 3:49 am

This is such a warm, beautiful, inspiring idea. Since my Mum passed away 4 1/2 years ago, I haven’t really known how to keep her memory alive with my children, who never met her. I really love this idea of bringing her stories + pictures + memories to life with the kids’ experiences now. Plus, my own Grandma is the last from that generation – and I feel I don’t even know enough about her. Make sure you keep us up-to-date with your hall of history.
PS – recently my sister saw the Dalai Lama, who said we need to be teaching our children compassion – YOU are doing that. SO much more important than learning “school stuff”.

Tiffany August 16, 2007 at 10:57 am

Hi Blue yonder,
I want to thank you for sharing. I have used your bandana pants pattern and LOVED IT! Thank you. Thank you for the inspiration to demonstrate just what family means. I am just getting started on my flickr page and blog. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks again.

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