So, you've sat down to document your life story and family history. The first few sentences are easy and maybe sound like this:
"I was born on (DATE) in (COUNTY, CITY AND/OR STATE) to (PARENTS NAMES). I was the (SIBLING ORDER) or (NUMBER OF SIBLINGS)."
But, where do you go from there? What stories should you include? Will anyone want to read this anyways?
Let me answer that last question now, YES. Your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will want to read this. For a full post about why your story is important, check out my blog post on that topic.
Now, as to those first two questions (what stories should you include) allow me to offer some suggestions:
1. Your Love Story
This one goes without saying. Your posterity want to know what got you and yours together! Face it, without you two - your kids, grandkids and the like wouldn't be here. So, get sappy for a minute. Here are some questions to get you started:
When did you first see your spouse?
What did you think? What were your first impressions?
When did you go on your first date? What happened on your first date?
When did you know you wanted to marry your spouse?
How did you or your spouse propose?
Describe your wedding day, how did you feel?
Describe the wedding ceremony, did the priest get your names right? Did your spouse get your name right?
What are some highlights from your marriage? Favorite trips? Favorite dates?
What are some things you love about your spouse?
What are some lessons your spouse has taught you?
What's one thing you wish your kids and grandkids understood better about your spouse?
Of course, there are always more questions and maybe you've got other stories you want to share about your spouse. Don't be afraid to be a little romantic - trust me, the grandkids want to hear it.
2. A Time You Struggled and Overcame
At some point in each of our lives, we struggle. We hit the preverbial brick wall of life, we stumble and fall, we skin our knees and bloody our noses. This is a universal experience.
Think of a time you struggled. Maybe you lost your job, a child, a friend or a cherished family heirloom. Maybe money was tight, a child was sick, your marriage was struggling or you were dealing with an addiction. Whatever the struggle, large or small - describe it.
Describe a time you struggled or failed at something
Then, talk about how you got through it. Don't worry if your attempts at overcoming were clumsy and messy. Don't be afraid to admit you didn't handle it well. Don't be ashamed of being human, and most importantly, don't be worried about how your loved ones will look at you. If you struggled and triumphed, you've come out on the other side a better person and you wouldn't be the person you are today if you'd not gone through that.
How did you overcome or redirect after that trial?
Your posterity is either there right now or will get there, and when it happens, they'll want a story or two to remind them that it's not the end of the world, they're not alone and they will get through whatever is kicking them when they're down.
So, saddle up and get ready for some painful memories. Gear up for reliving the wonder and sheer thrill of overcoming. Your experiences are wisdom in action, don't be afraid to share them.
How did that trial or struggle shape who you are today?
3. Your Hobbies and Quirks
We've all got hobbies. So, how did you get there? Did you accidentally sign up for high school wood shop instead of P.E. and discover a lifelong passion? Did your grandmother give you a pair of knitting needles for Christmas? Did you walk into a kite shop while on vacation?
What do you like to do?
How did you get involved in it?
Whatever you love to do, take a moment to think about what got you involved. Maybe you don't think the story of what got you into your hobby is anything interesting, tell it anyway.
Once you've described that experience, explain why you love your hobby so much.
Does fishing give you a chance to just get away from all the noise? Does watching Netflix give you a chance to cultivate your understanding of film? Does dancing give you an outlet to express your feelings in a way words just can't?
What about your hobby makes you happy?
How has your hobby helped you in your life or in a certain part of your life?
You never know when one of your grandkids just may take up the torch in your favorite hobby, and even if they don't, they have a glimpse into what makes you, YOU.
One more thing - you're quirky. I know it. That's what makes you unique. Maybe you ask your kids, or parents: what are some quirky things you do?
What are some foods you dislike? Do you remember when you started not liking them?
What are some catchphrases you say?
What kinds of colors or clothes do you like?
What are your favorite colors?
If you had an afternoon to yourself, what would you do? Visit a museum? Go shopping?
Do you like change or consistency?
What are your favorite types of food?
4. Your Childhood
My sister is 12 years younger than me and this gap has proved interesting when we look at our childhoods. She has never experienced a world without Netflix, smartphones, Bluetooth and YouTube. She's never had to panic when she's woken up and realized she's missed half of one of her favorite Saturday morning cartoons.
These are experiences and stories she finds not only hilarious, but completely new. So, I tell them. Maybe your generation gap is a little bigger - did your home not have running water when you were born? When did you get your first television?
What kind of games did you play as a kid?
What kinds of activities did you and your family do?
When did you get your first television set? What were some of your favorite shows growing up?
What is one major technological advancement you've lived through in your life?
What kinds of books did you like reading as a child?
What did you and your friends like to do?
Did you move a lot of a child or live in the same house your entire childhood?
What kinds of after school activities were you involved in?
5. A Time You Were Brave
Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. Perhaps you were involved in a military conflict, or once had to stand up for your faith and beliefs. Maybe you needed to stand up to your boss, or simply return some lost money. Maybe you did something wrong and had to own up to it, make it right.
At some point in your life, you've been brave. Tell that story.
Describe a time you were scared to do something, but did it anyway.
You're not tooting your own horn here, you're not being prideful. You're instilling courage in the next generation, you're showing your grandchildren bravery isn't restricted to age, year or circumstance. You're teaching your posterity how to be strong.
If you'd like help telling some of these stories, email email@example.com or order a package on our website.