Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stories and Stuff

I noticed the other night that it's getting dark just a little earlier each night. It made me remember summer nights when I was a girl -- bike rides at dusk, walking home from the local swimming pool after dark, ice cream with mom and dad on the front porch -- even an occasional summer thunderstorm echoing over the river that ran a block away from our house.
Each of us has stories to share with our children and grandchildren about what our growing up years were like. Have you told those stories to your children and grandchildren? Have you preserved any of the photographs or other mementoes that call those stories to mind?
We have an entire small room, about the size of a walk-in closet, with nothing but family artifacts and photographs. They are semi-organized, and every now and then my husband says “We need to get those photographs in some kind of usable form.”
He's right, and the best use I can think of is to let our kids and grandkids know their family history, using the photographs we've collected and the stories we remember.
Hallmark Magazine has a special publication out right now called Memory Keeping; I picked up a copy today at our local Hallmark shop. It's full of scrapbooking ideas, free clip art, and encouragement. Some of these ideas might be helpful as we set about sharing these family treasures.
The trick is to connect the stories with the stuff so that our family understands why the stuff has value to us. What good is a bowling trophy without the story about your high school bowling team? Why keep those old cookbooks unless you know the story of how your mom learned to cook from them?
It may seem as if our kids don't want to keep the stuff or hear the stories, but these things are like vegetables: they're good for you, even if you don't realize it now. Having things organized and written down is a good way to be sure our kids get the benefit of what we've experienced and learned, even if they aren't willing to listen right now. Chances are good that someday they'll want to know what we're trying to tell them!

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