Monday, January 08, 2007

Passing Along Your Family Stories to the Next Generation

One of the delights of my Sunday mornings is finding a "Letter from Harrisburg" in our local newspaper. Written by Dorcas Smucker (wonderful name!), a homemaker and mother of six, the "letters" she shares once a month about her ordinary life are extraordinary and always touch my heart.

Yesterday, Dorcas wrote about giving her daughter "a precious family heirloom disguised as a simple story." It's the kind of story I encourage people to put in their ethical or spiritual will. Here's a link:

Stories connect us, one generation at a time

I love what she says about story:

"A story is much more than just a story; it is a connection, a reassurance, a lesson, a door opening. It can last for years and stay fresh and fascinating. It is a mystery -- why do I gravitate to tell this story and not that one?

Through stories, I hope to pass on what's most important -- faith in God, love, hope for the future. When I tell how our lives were spared when we hit a moose and our van burned up, I am saying, "God is real. He still does miracles."

If you'd like to read more of Dorcas Smucker's stories, you'll find them in her book, Ordinary Days: Family Life in a Farmhouse.

Thank you, Dorcas, for blessing me and all of your readers with stories about your family life that will live for generations -- a lasting legacy of your extraordinary, ordinary days.
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Terry Sheldon said...


I am Terry Sheldon. I produce family history videos for people because of my belief both the ancient art of storytelling, and because I believe we need more connectedness between loved ones and generations. I come from a large extended family tree (around 50 first cousins), and there has always been laughter, music, and that "connection".

Storytelling can be as simple as a joke or "what happened today", or as rich as sitting on Grandpa's knee as a kid, hanging on every word and feeling every voice inflection and nuance as he spins a yarn of a story. It feeds the imagination's hungry appetite and forever connects us to the storyteller.

As a child, every story is a learning experience, and every experience naturally comes with a heightened sense of importance, a vividness that stamps itself onto our hearts and memory. With some of the old stories, as an adult, I not only remember them, I can FEEL them even today, years later.

Our children are now the recipients of our stories, our wisdom, and our flights of imaginary fancy. We can see the twinkle in their eyes, the gears turning in their minds, betrayed by raised eyebrows and wide eyes. We can appreciate that in their future, our stories will be a vital part in their own identity, their view of the world, and the relational currency that connect us all together.

Is sharing our memories important? How could we think otherwise. It's more essential than the schooling, and certainly the money and possesions we normally leave for them in our wills.

Don't you dare overlook the sharing and the telling. Don't think your wisdom doesn't matter to younger generations. Take the time to give it out. It will reward the recipients handsomely down the road. It's the thread in life's tapestry.

Terry Sheldon

Todd said...

Well said, Terry! Thank you for your comment. Hope you get some people to view your website and connect with you to do a family history video.