Your family stories: Choose one to tell today

What is your favorite family story? Everybody has them, even if they are hidden somewhere in your brain folds until you go looking. To celebrate Personal History Month (I know – you’ve never heard of it, but it’s real), find one and tell it to someone.

My family has one about the time my mother, age 11, had to prepare dinner for the entire family when her mom was indisposed. She apparently mistook baking powder for baking soda when trying to make the biscuits. Amid the family crowd of self-sufficient , living-off-the-land womenfolk, this was a cause for great hilarity. It went over my head, then and now, but they told it over and over.

Then there was the one of me running in terror out of a Chicago Baptist church when Santa tried to get me on his creepy scary lap. I think I didn’t stop running until I wound up in a Unitarian church that looked like a castle and had no visible Santas.

Or I can borrow from my husband’s family, like the one about their family trip – two parents, five children in an RV out west. Kids are acting like kids. Mom orders the driver (Dad) to pull over. She gets out and walks off down the road. The bus trails her, the kids in shocked silence. In the telling and re-telling there has been no report of Dad’s reaction, which I imagine could range from teeth-gritting frustration to quiet amusement. I’ll ask the next time I hear the story.

There are other stories from that trip that tell of the RV pulling down the Welcome to Central City! banner stretched across Main Street, rock-flinging in front of a priest, and kids flying out of upper bunks. And back at home, stories of one sibling dangling another down the laundry chute, or pelting one with canned plums from the upstairs balcony.

There are plenty more on both sides, including lost engagement rings, falling hatchets, and unreliable men who flee to Texas. I’ve started to wonder if men who “ran off to Texas” are the human version of dogs who “went to live at the farm.”

Stories are for telling and for hearing. There is always a sliver of truth, something to identify with, even something universal – what mom can’t understand my mother-in-law stomping off down the road?

So, what’s yours?

Stories can also be for saving and sharing in various media. Check out a personal historian near you if you’d like some help to turn your stories into books or videos or photo books or tributes.  Your loved ones would love to see, hear, and keep them.


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