Family time is so important, and families that stick together create great stories to be told later. My family is no exception, and I love getting together with them – most of the time. Mainly, I like the stories we create for later. Some stories I would like to forget, but most of them are fun. Some are founded in rumor with a sprinkle of truth, others based on hearsay. In the end, the good stories never seem to die.
For most families, the holidays are the best times to share the stories of the past. Our family loves to see where everyone is right now and what we have planned for the future, and then of course, we gossip about the crazy relatives that didn’t show for the white elephant gift exchange. There were years where my grandmother would visit and tell us lavish stories of her life married to an Italian immigrant, being a child in a big Italian family, growing up in the Bronx, and traveling all over the world. But we are not really sure what was truth and what was confabulation, and I don’t think we really cared.
There are lots of interesting stories that swirl around my family on both sides. Many started with the sudden job transfer my dad had across the country when my siblings and I were small. I really don’t know the reason we moved across the country and away from our family in the first place, but honestly, I found it hard to believe that any company, anywhere in the world, would want to transfer their headquarters to a place where the tumbleweed rolled down the street faster than my mom’s car. Either all of those employees were being punished, including my dad, or we were entering the witness protection program. Now you see how stories get started.
Just to ease your mind, we were not in the witness protection program, even though it seemed that way since we quickly departed our dust bowl of a town and moved to a more sprawling, urban area with a thriving school system, which is where my siblings and I ultimately grew up. And even though there were over 1,000 miles that separated us from our family up north, we stayed very close with them. And as the years rolled on, we created more stories with every single visit, whether it was back up north or down south.
The challenge is keeping the stories alive. Some families can keep them alive through photographs, scrap booking, writing a family blog, letters or something that signals to everyone “Don’t forget this moment.” Challenge yourself to put something together for your family. Some things I have done include: Secretly recording my grandmother; Had my mother draw a family tree; Started a family tree on Geni (www.geni.com), which took off like a wildfire on a dry, windy day; Created photo books using Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com); and for my own purposes. Also, I’ve saved scraps of items, newspaper clippings, brochures, and even rocks or any other suitable memorabilia I felt was worth saving. I also have numerous locked diaries hidden away somewhere hopefully never to be found while I am alive. (just kidding).
Before you know it, one chapter of life will end while another one will immediately begin. How will you share your life? Do you have pictures? Where are they, on your cell phone? The same cell phone that one day will fall into the toilet when you bend over to wipe yourself? That’s what I thought. Challenge yourself to share the stories before they fall in the toilet.
Here are some ideas for you: http://www.instagram.com (upload, touchup and share photos)
http://www.shutterfly.com (upload and store photos, create photo books, calendars, cards)
http://www.geneaology.com (track your family history)
http://www.ancestry.com (track your family history)
http://www.familytreemaker.com or http://www.geni.com (create a family tree with photos and stories)
http://www.wordpress.com (start a family blog)
http://www.facebook.com (create a family page on Facebook, or a page for a family reunion)