Readers of my blog know that I place great value on relating family history to children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. On occasion, I have quoted from Bruce Feiler’s book, The Secrets of Happy Families, in which he advises us to tell our story:
The most important thing you can do may be the easiest of all. Tell your children the story of their family. Children who know more about their parents, grandparents, and other relatives – both their ups and their downs – have higher self-esteem and greater confidence to confront their own challenges. Researchers have found that knowing more about family history is the single biggest predictor of a child’s emotional well-being.
And coincidentally, yesterday, I came across this wonderful African proverb: When an old person dies, a library burns to the ground (well, actually, I took the liberty of changing man to person). So what can we do to preserve some of that precious knowledge…history…lore?
We need to share our stories. Ideally, the younger generation would ask questions. And some—like my children—do. My father died when I was 22 and while I loved him very much, I realize now that there were many things that I didn’t ask…perhaps, I was too self-involved. Fortunately, my mother, who really was the family historian, was able to fill in some of the details of his background; for instance, just 10 years ago, I found out that my father had majored in beekeeping in college (something I’d never seen any evidence of)! How many other things will I never learn?
Continue having these kinds of bonding conversations, but leaving a permanent record of your story is clearly important. Fortunately, there are journals designed for this express purpose. Susan Adcox, a blogging friend, has recently released stories from my grandparent | An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild. Susan is the Guide to Grandparents on About.com, which is the best-written and most comprehensive resource for everything grandparent.
Behind its beautiful cover, this guided journal furnishes thought-provoking prompts that help you use your own words to remember, reminisce, and reflect on your life’s journey. Its size and spiral-bound pages make it convenient to use.
May 11 of this year is the day set aside to honor the mothers, grandmothers and perhaps even the great-grandmothers in our lives. Sometimes the circle widens to include aunts and other women who have played a meaningful role. This journal would make a special present for Mother’s Day (you might want to pair it with something indulgent like a mani-pedi, a special lunch or flowers). Of course, it’s equally appropriate for Father’s Day.
Actually, filling out and passing on this book is a gift to all generations involved. Grandparent and grandchild can even make this a joint project and work on it together a bit at a time.
I hope your Mother’s Day brings you hugs and laughter, good wishes and good food, appreciation and love… in some measure.