Family Stories and Christmas are like Grand Central.

Christmas time and Family Stories belong together as does yummy pudding and custard.

Don’t miss the opportunity

Family Stories
Family Stories and Christmas are warm and fuzzy times

Christmas time is a time when families come together or if they don’t physically, they certainly do mentally and emotionally. Christmas time is a time to rehash all the stories exaggerated or not, of family members’ quirks, strange behaviours or extraordinary life events and experiences.

Everyone has a story and children love to hear them. The stories they love most are the everyday stories we perhaps easily forget, how parents and grandparents met, what happened in the ‘old days’ and of course, they love a bit of ‘naughtiness’ and humour thrown in the mix.

My grandchildren love the stories of when their father at their age, broke the front window of our house, and then a few hours later, the window of his bedroom at the back of the house. They love the story of when he was being particularly naughty and knew he was going to get a smack (as children did in those days); he anticipated his punishment and put a book down the inside of his pants. Of course, I add in that I knew the book was there and let him get away with it anyway, (I think they love this bit best).

Equally, they love hearing of Dad’s successes, claiming the title of Australian Champion of VJ Sailing, his leadership roles in the community and at school. The grandchildren easily relate to all these things and, so they become part of the family story.

Write my life
Daddy’s successes and other funny stories are part of the family history

Families come together because they need a shared past with their kin. People’s identify is strongly tied to the family characteristics and family traits become something to be celebrated and cherished. Even the ‘odd’ people in the family take on a different role when the time is taken to listen to their story and perspectives.

Family stories are part of family culture and tradition and people need family rituals to reinforce their belonging and emotional wellbeing.

Establishing a link between family members and generations through simple stories is one of the most powerful gifts you can give children and Christmas is the ideal time to start your collection.

Recording family stories

Capturing family stories need not be a tedious event. It can be fun and interactive. Smartphones are the magician of the current generation in my view and a very useful tool for capturing life stories.

Older children or adolescents may be thrilled to be asked to approach various people in the family, take them to a quiet spot and record their life stories.  It may be useful to equip the young interviewers with some key questions and leave them to it. Young people are very resourceful once they listen.

Other ways to ignite and record family stories could include:

  • Forming a small circle and starting a conversation by ‘remember when’ will stir up memories that may have lay dormant for decades.
  • Circulating a photo and allowing conversation and memories to explode.

Even if the family Christmas is a small occasion, rekindling memories in the same way and recording them is a warm and fuzzy Christmas day activity.

What happens then

Many families have a tech-savvy member who could collate all the stories and put them on a CD or a family website.

Family stories
Recording family stories and storing them on Family Website or Book – Wonderful

Some families have a writer who could transcribe the stories and put them into a beautiful book for all to share. You could also share any photos from that photo box under the bed that we all have – that would be amazing.

Contact Write My Journey

Alternatively, you could contact Write My Journey and we could write the stories up into a family story album, linking the stories and bring the album to life with much more.

Photos and words make your memoir powerful

memoir
Photos and words together are powerful

Is a photo worth a thousand words? Apparently not – that is unless you interact with the photos rather than just accumulate boxes of them under your bed or in a digital file somewhere. Photos and words make your memoir powerful and the story of who you are clear and memorable.

Relying on technology to record an event can detract from the experience and so the personal memory-formation of an event[i]. Emotion has a powerful impact on our memory.  We recall events that have meaning for us in some way. It is a way of holding onto what we consider significant moments in our lives.  Reflecting on a photo will help bring those memories forward although sometimes a photograph can affect our recall as well.

A group photo came to life recently of family members forty years younger. One family member was partially hidden behind someone else. Three people claimed the identify of that lone little body; and tempers did fly a little in the process. The matter was settled when one party drew attention to other details in the photo and gave them context.

Continue Reading

Margaret Catchpole – a hero, a celebrity or just a woman?

Well I have finished my Margaret Catchpole memoir and totally enjoyed the efforts of Laurie Chater Forth.  Laurie and her team apparently conducted quite in-depth research to reveal a reasonable understanding of Margaret’s life. I learnt quite a deal not only about Margaret but about life for a female convict at that time, alone and with no rights as a woman or a life prisoner.

Being a writer of sorts, a nurse and a midwife and one whose life appears to be one of service, I identified with Margaret Catchpole in many respects. I doubt though that I have Margaret’s unresolved optimism and determination to continue to live a life of dedication and positive attitude, which I think she must have to achieve her popularity and good will of her community. Continue Reading

Is a Memoir all Fact?

When writing a memoir, the issue of fact or fiction must be addressed. It is an issue often discussed amongst memoirists and a fear born out of a deceiving one’s readers.

The issue came to mind recently when reading the novel written about Margaret Cathpole’s life as written by Reverend Richard Cobbold, the Rector of Worthham, Suffolk (http://hawkesburywriters.org.au/margaret-catchpole-her-life-and-her-letters/s).

People in the Hawkesbury did remember Margaret according to the Hawkesbury Writers website when she lived local to them. Their memories were very different to the Reverend Cobbold’s account of Margaret’s life.

The mind can play tricks and even with the best of intentions can replay events not quite as they were. I wrote an account of a memoir of my childhood to do with the opening of the Parkes Radio Telescope.  I then went about and researched the facts of the day and surprisingly many facts were not as I remembered. Of course, I was a child, and interpreted events through my own understanding.Continue Reading