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The best gift you alone can give

April 28, 2016
By Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

Chances are you haven't been thinking about Christmas lately. There are so many other things to worry about right now..all the pre-election hoopla, end-of-month bills, vacation plans. But according to my count, Christmas is just 242 days away.

Although that may seem like a long time, in order to make the gift your family will treasure for generations, you'll have to begin now.

I'm proposing you give your children, your grandchildren and coming generations something no one else can give.the story of your life.

Writing your memoirs is one of the most interesting and enjoyable experiences you can have. And giving the finished memoirs to your loved ones at Christmas will be an unforgettable experience for them as well.

I've kept an ongoing memory journal myself for years, and over time I've had the great privilege of teaching classes in memory writing. Both the writing and the teaching have been experiences I'll always treasure.

When I began teaching my classes I discovered that many folks had considered writing their memoirs before they joined the course. But, though the idea was interesting, they never found the right time to begin the task.

One lady reported she had told her brother many times that she was going to write her memories. When the announcement of my class came out in the paper, she said enthusiastically, "Well, this is it. At last I'm going to really do it."

Her brother, who had heard the idea all too often, said skeptically, "Well, you'd better get started. It's going to be pretty hard to write lying down."

Another of my students told me at the second or third class that she was glad she had waited to do her memory writing.

When I asked why she thought the delay had been a good idea, she said, "Well, since everyone I wanted to write about is now dead, no-body is around to say I'm wrong."

The reason I'm encouraging you to start on this memory-writing task at this point in time is that by recording your life as you recall it, you will be giving your family both now and in the future a priceless keepsake.

Wouldn't you love to have a collection of your grandmother's memories of the things that were important to her in the world of the 1920s? And what a gift it would be to have your great grandfather's recordings of his life when he was a young boy or when he went off to fight in World War I.

Just as these are glimpses into the earlier lives of your family members are priceless, so are yours.

In African nations, it is traditional for one member of each family or clan to be appointed historian in order that the family stories can be passed down through the generations.

Wouldn't it be a wonderful addition to your family life to have such a tradition?

One of my favorite quotes says it all: "When an old person dies, a library burns."

So, with that in mind, make this the time you start recording a Christmas treasure for your family that no one else can duplicate. Give your children and their children and their children's children the unique gift of your chapter in the book of your family's life.



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