We all love summer. Hot days, cool nights, summer vacation from school, picnics, road trips, reunions – it’s a season that screams for family time.
With summertime being popular for family reunions, it can also be the perfect time for you to share your life story. My family is very large, and we spend a lot of time reminiscing about the old days of “The Andy Williams Show,” the “Donny and Marie Show,” traveling on tour together, and getting Donny back for all of the pranks he pulled over the years.
It’s easy to get distracted, but taking the time to talk with your children, grandchildren or other loved ones about your life can act has a healthy reminder of the fullness of life and what it means to you. You’re the expert on that subject, but here are a few tips to get you started.
Don’t force structure: Don’t worry about having the perfect story or getting off track. Sometimes it’s the random details of cherished memories that end up being the most valued. You may consider allowing your loved ones to choose the topic. The most compelling topics are the ones shared across generations and are important regardless of year, location or age.
Make it a sprint, not a marathon: Meeting more frequently for shorter periods of time may require a greater time commitment, but you are sure to get a big return on your time. Spend some time reminiscing then move on to current events. Repeat this process the next time you meet. Your grandchildren, children or other loved ones will keep coming back for more.
Invite a third party: Opening the afternoon to another family member or close friend makes the time together less like a formal interview and more like a spontaneous tea party for three. Who knows? These visits could become a delightful habit. Involving a third person encourages a different perspective on memories, too.
Record it: Your life is important to your family and friends, and recording your memories allows you to leave a legacy for them. If you choose to set up video or audio, arrange it in a way that isn’t distracting. A friend of mine often takes an old recorder with him to family gatherings and places it on a side table. Soon people forget it is there and fun stories about family quickly surface.
Share it: Stories that may not mean much to you can offer a tremendous amount of comfort to another family member. This is true especially when they are shared across social media, published in family memoirs, or otherwise memorialized.
Your life story can be a lasting comfort and a treasure to all of your loved ones. I know that the written memories we have of Grandpa and Grandma Osmond are treasures that we go back to over and over again. This summer, make the decision to share those stories that are sure to warm the hearts of family long after the days of summer have faded.
Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., in her bimonthly columns, uncovers the many factors that help a person stay healthy, live longer and have a better quality of life.