Holiday get-togethers are the ideal time to pass on stories about your ancestors. Many family gatherings have as many as 4-5 generations around the table, so what better time to sit back and have our elders enlighten us all about the way things were.
Regretably, many kids I meet today don’t know the origin of their names. If they have been named after past relatives, let them know why you did so. Were there qualities in that person that you wanted your newborn to emulate as they grew up? How are they like that person? What were the characteristics of that relative that you most admired? Have the whole family chime in on what they know of that namesake.
Have your children ask the elders questions like: What did you do for fun when you were their age? How did they keep in touch with friends without cell phones and the internet? What was it like in school: how much homework did they have each night, did they feel pressured by their parents for perfect grades, were there pressures about college? How did they meet their spouse, and what did the dating look like? How did they know when their spouse was ‘the one’? What were the toughest times for them growing up? Did they ever feel insecure or awkward? Did the ever get teased or left out? What were the holiday traditions they experienced growing up? Where did present day rituals get their start?
These kind of stories are the ties that bind generations together. In the old days,families spent evenings huddled around campfires, and storytelling was the main entertainment. And that is how customs, values, and wisdom was passed from one generation to the next. It was also a way to honor your elders and what they still brought to the family. Kids still love to hear stories about their grandparents and parents pasts. They just need for everyone to turn off their cell phones, turn off the TV and football games, and sit around together and connect.
Make story time a new family tradition, and record the stories in some way before people pass on. Kids who know their family history are more grounded, and all it takes is some down time to relax and listen.