We are about to enter the holiday season. Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Before long we will be exchanging Christmas gifts. After that comes New Year’s Day. All of these holidays are times that families gather for good food, good company, and reminiscing. Perhaps this is the reason that November is designated Family Story Month.
As we age, more and more of our family are no longer with us. At family gatherings, it is important to remember our losses, but it is also important to remember what we have gained from them. Now we have to be the ones to tell the family stories. I liked it better when Grandma and Dad were the history keepers. We have to pass down our family history to our young ones. The only way to do that is to tell tales of when their father, grandfather or great grandparents were young.
Children love to hear stories about themselves. Recently, while trying to distract my grandson, I told him about the day he was born. His favorite part was his first bath during which he howled. “Tell that part again, Nani.” He also likes the story of the glow-in-the-dark shoes that his father was afraid to wear. Parents seem so big and brave all the time. It is reassuring to children to know that their parents were afraid of things, too.
Maybe your clan is expanding, instead of dwindling like mine. Perhaps your children are marrying and starting families. Those new members need your family stories, too. New members need to hear what their wife or husband was like as a child. It’s good to know that nobody is perfect, that everybody makes mistakes, that this new family is full of love and laughter.
Come to the library to check out a memoir like Driving Miss Norma, a true story about a ninety year-old woman and her son, his wife and their dog, all taking a road trip instead of undergoing the chemo, radiation, etc. that the doctors recommended. Author Lee Smith wrote, a memoir about her parents, her childhood, two marriages, and her children. In it, she confesses that both her parents were mentally unstable and spent some time hospitalized. She makes the reader cry in the chapter that tells of her son’s mental illness and death. But she also makes us laugh when she tells funny stories about her life. Like wearing small turtles to school (real turtles clinging to her shirt.) As a child she ran free in the mountains of Virginia or she played in her dad’s store. She tells about falling asleep on the porch, listening to the old folks tell stories.
Look through family photo albums to jog your memory. Tell your stories as you pass the turkey and stuffing. Happy holidays!