“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” Sue Monk Kidd
You are the keeper of some wonderful family stories and history. Funny, strange, tragic, inspiring things happened that only you know about. Share them in a few sentences with other family members. We are not talking about revealing secrets or skeletons, just good stories. If you do not share these stories, they will be lost forever.
Here are some clues to get you started. These are just prompts. Looking at old family photographs will also help. If it is possible, drive or walk through your old neighborhood.
Where and when were you born?
Were you named after someone?
Did anything significant happen the year you were born?
Take a memory walk through your grade school or high school.
What teacher was in each classroom?
Visualize going to church or synagogue.
Where did you sit?
Who was your religious leader?
What was a family dinner like?
What was your first car?
How did you get it?
Who was your first real boyfriend or girlfriend?
Did you ever play hooky from school?
Where did you hang out?
What was your first job?
Who broke your heart?
Did something funny happen at your wedding?
How much was your first allowance?
What did you buy with it?
Who was your childhood hero?
Does your house or neighborhood have a ghost?
The day after Thanksgiving is designated as a National Day of Listening by Storycorps. It is a day set aside to tell and record family stories. Sit down with family members and encourage them to share their stories with each other. You might need to break the ice by telling your story first. Research has shown that children who know their family stories both the successes and failures are better able to cope with life as adults than those who do not know their stories. Stories connect us to each other. They create a bond.
My new book, Our Father: Discovering Family (WipfandStock), is full of stories. For each one that I recorded in the book, there are three or four that I didn’t include. As you recall one story, the telling will lead you to remember others. Relax and enjoy the experience.