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Christmas was just two weeks ago, so I'll slip in a last Christmas 2016 story...

I was preparing for the family gathering at Rob and Kimberly's house in Lexington, picturing a 10-foot tree and house all wonderfully decorated, and thinking what I could bring that was special.

Then I remembered the Charlotte Christie Bible.

Years ago I inherited a gorgeously embossed leather-covered Bible with the name of Charlotte Catherine Christie, my grandmother's mother, written in gold on the cover.

A hand-embroidered cross on red silk is tucked into the Book of Psalms and two Christmas cards from my father are in the book of Genesis. But aside from the Holy Scripture, of course, the rarest content of this Bible is the family information it contains. This was what I wanted to share with my family, particularly the children.

This family Bible was published in 1861, the first year of the Civil War, by the American Tract Society. It was given to my great-grandmother Charlotte who was born on January 17, 1845, obviously a special and expensive gift, perhaps a wedding present to her in 1869.

I decided to bring the Christie Bible and ask Robby and Gwendolyn (and as it wonderfully turned out, also Kai and Jorin from Tanzania!) how they thought SUCH an old book could contain the names of their own daddies?

We gathered together and I showed them this very heavy old book that once been read by their great-great-grandmother Charlotte. I opened it to the Family Record section. And there on the "Births" page are the names of my parents, my name, my brother and sister's names, my cousins and ...their daddies: David Witherspoon Lowrance III and Robert Justin Mitchell Lowrance.

Whether the children were impressed or just polite was a little hard to tell, but I savored sharing with them their long connection to the past.

P.S. The absolute highlight of Christmas 2016 was the sight of four people who were supposedly "unable to come home for Christmas" -- Dave, Roopal, Kai and Jorin -- all leaping out from behind a giant Christmas tree shouting Merry Christmas Nana!!! Merry Christmas, Mum!" This glorious surprise, known only to a select few, was revealed to unsuspecting individuals as they arrived at the Ullman house in Newton, and I suspect we all have yet to recover.

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