When my children were young nothing got their attention faster than my husband or I telling a story from our own childhood. They loved to hear how things were different in our day or what we did for fun. They especially liked the stories that told of our less-than-perfect young lives. And if we really wanted them to learn a lesson, we simply told each other a story about the value of telling the truth or being respectful to others or some other nugget of truth. The kids just eavesdropped their way to becoming better citizens.
Stories are powerful. Stories showcase characters in some sort of dramatic action. They have adventures, problems to solve, heroes to save the day or scoundrels to catch and set aright. Stories are fun. Grandparents, you have stories to tell your family whether you know it or not. I remember my Dad, who grew up on a farm, telling of how my Uncle Leslie locked his Ma in the chicken house and proudly said, “We sure have a big hen in there today!” All those stories of how hard kids worked in the olden days may elicit yawns, but how about the stories of times you struggled in school and then succeeded? How about the times you were either wonderful or horrible at a certain sport? Is it sad or funny, scary or silly? If it is, then it’s a story. You need to tell it to your grandchildren.
Reading and writing are eternally connected to one another. In school both skills are highly valued. Why don’t you sit down with your grandchild and write one of your family stories together? Perhaps you can talk and he or she can write down the main ideas. Then together you can flesh it out, being sure to place the right emphasis on the funny or hair-raising parts. You can add original illustrations, bind it and keep it forever. Or you can put your stories on tape recordings or CD’s for future enjoyment. A family friend, a wonderful 91 year old who went sledding down her great-grandchildren’s driveway last winter, has written her memoirs of raising her five children. It was a special edition written only for them and they treasure it. This great grandma has no college degree; she just has a life filled with all the joys and sorrows of real life.
Sit down and think. Where did you live? Where did you go to school? Who were your friends and why? What were your parents and grandparents like and what is there to tell about their lives? What adventures did you have or imagine as a child? What was hard for you, easy for you, challenging for you, fun for you? Did you spend your days reading books or working in fields? Did you have overseas military service? Did you have a job that your grandchildren may not know about? The possibilities are endless because life itself is interesting to your own family members. Jot down some notes. You may find yourself digging up memories you had long forgotten. Tell your stories, they are pure gold.