‘Tis the season of giving and receiving. Yet our grief keeps us from feeling like going out to the mall or taking the time and energy to find just the right present for our family member. Our tree may remain boxed this year and our lights still in their tangled mess of cords as we just try to make it through the day, much less the holidays.  Still there is a gift you can give to your family more valuable than anything you can buy on the internet, more powerful than any electronic gadget and more touching than any jewelry commercial – it is the gift of your stories. 

Every day I encounter genealogists looking for family members of generations past. They may find their dates of birth, marriage and death along with their burial location, but there is one thing no search can uncover – their story. The life that took place between the dash on the granite stone. It is the stories of our ancestors that remind us of who we are and where we came from. The tales of emigrating from the home they knew to a country where endless possibilities unfolded. The small moments of family vacations, proposals and hobbies that clue us in to who they truly were. Their favorite flavor of ice cream, book or movie are all lost unless we share this information with others.  It is the one gift that is sacred, that only we can record. Our memories of times spent with a grandparent or parent, the things they did with us and the family history they shared during those special moments. We may remember three or possibly four generations back, but beyond that all is lost, unless it is recorded.

Take time to write down the stories, tell them when the family gathers for the holidays, videotape them or record them on a tape or digital recorder. Let future generations know the stories of those you love, some of whom are no longer with you and some who can still tell their tale. No harried trips to the mall, no need for wrapping paper or a bow, just the gift that keeps on giving from generation to generation.

Nancy Weil is a leading authority on humor and grief. She serves as Director of Grief Support for eleven cemeteries and is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and Grief Management Specialist. Through her company, The Laugh Academy, she offers products to ease the stress and pain that grief can bring. Bandages for Your Heart on DVD or CD, Laugh for the Health of It on CD and her new book, If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might, can be ordered by clicking here.


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