I came home from my mother’s house with some of the coins she’d picked up over the years.
One was privately minted coin from the administration of Van Buren, a coin known as a ‘Hard Times’ token. On one side it has strongbox riding on the back of a turtle, on the other side a jackass. It is a satirical reference to economic policies that started with Andrew Jackson and led to the Panic of 1837. It is also one of the first uses of the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic party. My husband looked it up and then told us the story of this coin.
That reminded me of a game he used to play with our children. He’d have a large container full of coins. After one of the children selected a coin, he would tell stories, political and personal, about things that happened the year it was minted. For older coins, the stories might be of his parents or grandparents. For brand new coins, the stories might be about our children themselves.
Both of my children share the Strengthsfinder theme, Context: “You look back to understand the present. .. You become wiser about the future because you saw its seeds being sown in the past.” (Thomas Rath, StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 81). Perhaps they inherited this tendency from my husband, who has a phenomenal memory. Perhaps they picked it up as they grew because they liked to hear his stories.
Try it if you have small children and a reasonable memory. It’s a great way to engender some reverence for the past.