Monday, April 8, 2013

My Family Narrative

I was reading The Family Stories That Bind Us on The New York Time website. It's a very interesting article about how the single most important thing you can do for your family is develop a strong family narrative. It makes people more resilient and can help moderate the effects of stress.
If you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come. 
My family has a lot of stories to tell and I always found it fascinating when they would point out the houses they grew up in and show me grave sites of loved ones long gone. We are close with our extended family, so hearing stories about my cousins were usually pretty entertaining. While digging through a box of my dad's stuff I came across letters my grandma had written my grandpa. Dad once found the boat ticket his grandparents used to come across the ocean and into North America. It all makes me so proud and curious to know more about who I am and where I come from.

I've always claimed my journals are my legacy. For the last 2 years my journal writing has been sporadic at best. I really want to get back into it and start writing every day because Tesla is growing so fast and I don't want to forget anything. But I also want to do something else; something bigger - an anthology.

With the help of family, I want to start writing a never-ending project. I want to record as many stories as I can about our family. My grandmother is alive and well and I have no idea how she met Grandpa. I once asked her over Chinese food why she said yes to his proposal and her response was, "Well, he was a very nice boy."

My mother spearheaded this family cookbook filled with old recipes from all the cousins on the Creek side of the family. It also included stories about how my great-grandparents came to Canada and how life on the farm was back in the day as recounted by their children who are almost all dead now. That cookbook is an amazing piece of  my family's history and is a story in itself.

There's a lot more holes in the history of my father's family. Sadly, most of my father's family is either dead or estranged. My father tells me stories of his childhood and I try very hard to listen carefully and remember as much as I can. Grandpa and Great-Grandma used to tell him stories and he said he never really paid attention and he regrets that now. Those stories are lost forever.

I want to get stories from Bob's side of the family too. After all, he's pretty much my husband and I want Tesla to know about her paternal roots too. Even though none of Bob's grandparents remain, I'm sure his parents and uncle would be able to remember at least some stories.

The great thing about this anthology is that it will be enjoyed by everybody in the family who is alive right now and who is yet to be born. The older we get and the thicker the anthology grows, the more valuable it will become, especially when family members start passing on. It's this huge team project where everybody in the family is working toward a common goal. I want Tesla to know who her family is and where she comes from. I also want to be able to remember where I come from too.

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