Creating an Heirloom to Mark Milestones: Elliot’s Hammer

By Ken Stratton

As my children get closer to adolescence, I want to be intentional with helping them understand and celebrate milestones in each of their lives. For my sons, I want to be an example and role model of a good man, father and friend, ultimately helping them to become these things themselves.

My oldest son, Elliot, turned 10 in December. As one does with their first child, I am figuring out how I want to celebrate these momentous moments of growth with him in mind. Most recently, while working on our latest house flip projects, Elliot and I were not able to spend great quality time together at home. However, everyday he would volunteer to help me with the project. On easier nights, he would come along and do a really great job of helping me with the project. I know he will look back on the time and remember it as hard work, but I hope he cherishes the memories we made, like I always will.

I wanted to thank and honor him for his efforts while celebrating the recent sale of this house. I reflected on what I would have liked at his age, and I tried to think of something that would have lasting sentimental value as well as usefulness. Cue the Vaughan Hammer (if you need a great hammer, I highly recommend Vaughan). This hammer serves as a symbol of our time together on this project, and if it is used correctly, could last for generations.  

I stained the handle with the same stain we used on floor throughout the house flip and inscribed it with this message: “If properly used this handle will eventually break. May your spirit be stronger than this handle.”

Even though this handle will eventually break, as all wooden hammer handles will, it could possibly last for three generations or more. My hope is that he will use it himself, and be able to pass it to his son, and his son’s son. When the handle breaks, it’s my hope that whoever has it at the time understands its value and strength and will replace it; may they uphold the tradition of gifting the hammer through the generations of men in our family.

When I gave him the hammer, we had just gone on a bike ride together. Then, we sat on the back of my truck and I gave it to him as a thank you for all his hard work alongside me.

Elliot was excited about getting this gift, and was even more excited to start working on our next project - a tree house. Giving him this hammer, which has been a useful and important tool for me a man, signifies a step of maturity in his life - it will help him to build other things in the future. It’s my hope that he will grasp the full meaning of this hammer as time goes on. And I can’t wait to start building that treehouse with him.

The most important thing I learned in this process is that my kids NEED me to be an example of what a strong man and father is like - and that means I need to be intentional with teaching them this. What we pass down to our children matters. Honor and integrity is still relevant even in a culture that has seemingly forgotten about both those traits. May we be parents that uphold tradition and model excellence to our children.

Kendra Anderson