After gathering details of family history, we genealogists then share what we’ve learned. Consider the possibility of also compiling a set of stories called “What I Have Learned About Life.” Through your stories, your descendants will get to know you as a person. Your book of stories will have sections that tell about stages of your life, such as childhood, young adulthood and the older years. Perhaps your descendants will gain insights from your stories that will help them during their lives.

When your family gathers this holiday season, ask each of your children and grandchildren to tell you what they would like to know about your life. Using that list as an aid, begin your journey of reminiscences.

Start with your given name. Is there a special significance to your name? Where and when were you born? What are the names of your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles? Which of your relatives lived nearby when you were growing up? How often did your family gather with relatives? Was it only at celebrations, funerals — or more often? What were their personalities like? Which relatives were you especially fond of and why?

What is your earliest memory? Why do you think it is so vivid? Describe the type of home in which you grew up. What special memories stand out? Why are they special, and how did they affect you?

What types of toys did you have? Did you have pets or farm animals of which you became fond? Did you enjoy taking walks or riding a bike? How did you feel as you set out down country roads or side streets? What did your family do for entertainment? Why do you think they chose that type of activity?

What type of religious services did you attend? Were they held in your home or elsewhere? What values do you cherish as a result of your religious background? Is there a person or people whom you admire because their life epitomizes how a person should live? What did they do that impressed you so much?

Are there family traditions that you cherish? When did your family observe them? Which ancestors observed them earlier? Are the traditions from another country? What lessons did your parents strive to teach you? Why do you think they felt so strongly about those approaches to life?

What was the name of your school? What did the staff do to encourage good behavior and optimal learning? Were you bullied, or did you bully someone else? How did it affect you and others?

Were you active in school clubs or other activities? Why did you like them? In what ways did they help you be a better person?

Next week’s column will have more suggestions to help you as you write stories of your life’s lessons.

Comments or Suggestions? Contact Frankie Meyer:

Recommended for you