By: Wanda Campbell
It is not often that I get to sit in a room full of relatives while they tell stories about my parents. This Thanksgiving, it was particularly nice to have my Aunt My, Mom’s younger sister, visiting from Florida. She remembers all the good stories about growing up with my mother.

Like most young kids, Mom was special for kissing my boo-boos and making fudge. And, like most teen-agers, I felt that Mom just did not understand. It is only as an adult that we can come to respect all that our parents do for us growing up, and if you are lucky enough to have an Aunt My, you can see your parents as individuals.

Marshall P. Duke wrote an article in the New York Times called “This Life: The Stories that Bind Us” in March 2017. He and Robyn Fisvush conducted research asking 20 questions about family history. They used their particular questions because respondents could not have learned the family history first-hand, they had to learn the information another way. He said “higher scores on the scale were associated with higher levels of self-esteem, an internal locus of control (a belief in one’s own capacity to control what happens to him or her), better family functioning, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and better chances for good outcomes if a child faces educational or emotional/behavioral difficulties.”

He also said that the family history was relevant because “some people have to talk and some have to listen. The stories need to be told over and over, and the times of sitting together need to occur over many years to get the best results.”

One of my most treasured possessions is a recording of Mom’s brothers and sisters telling stories about their childhood. We were lucky to have a family member who could video tape the group telling the stories. We also had another person who added old photos of the person who was talking. It is quite the treasure.

If the technology scares you off, you can always write your family history. To begin, you can interview and record family members talking. To make the stories interesting, look for world events that happened at the time of your story. You can produce an entire book using Word. To get your family history published, you could contact some of the self-publishing services. No matter what you write, your family will appreciate your book, even if you copy it into a notebook.

Learning about family is like learning about history. Never stop learning.
By: Wanda Campbell
Center for Lifelong Learning – 121 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611 – 256-233-8262

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