Working in the business of storytelling allows us to learn about a multitude of different businesses and lives. We believe that every one has a story. Yet in the process of helping people tell theirs, we could easily forget to tell our own. We could not continue to let time slip past us since capturing family legacies is a core value. Therefore, we decided to bring along a camera and microphone to our cross-country family gathering.
Gathering the Family
Our priority interview was for the grandparents. We set up our equipment on the garden patio and brought out tea and cookies for the small table. If it weren’t for the whir of the neighbor’s lawn mower, it would have been a quintessential teatime chat. Still, the interview moved along easily as they told about growing up with very different backgrounds and their romantic first meeting. The intimate setting allowed for stories to be brought up that I had never heard before during previous family gatherings. Even though I have spent a considerable amount of time with them, after the interview I felt as though I knew them even more.
One afternoon while everyone was around, we set up for group interviews. All the siblings gathered and I only needed to prompt them with a few questions. Someone would answer with a story that would spark several new memories. It was fascinating to see how some events only one sibling could recall, while others were held dear by everyone.
Grandchildren also shared their favorite memories from massive meals to adventures with Pop Pop, and Nana’s piano. The in-laws who had married into the family also got a chance to share their hearts. One of the benefits of group interviews is that those family members with less to say still were able to participate without having pressure to perform. While several people were nervous to be on camera, they never said they regretted taking the step to share. I’ll take that as a good sign!
What I Found
Family interviews are not only a time to record go-to stories and histories, they are also a way to recognize the lessons you have learned. Gratefulness emerges as the good results of where we are today trace back to the roots of yesterday’s difficult decisions. We enjoy regaling with humorous anecdotes, but our “Story” is the over-all picture. If you had asked me our family story before the interviews I would have recited a general timeline of events. Now I would share a list of themes: the beauty of family, the bonds of love, and the power of grace.
I called this blog “Family Matters” because it illustrates so well the progression of recording our family legacy. It begins with telling stories of everyday adventures. The diverse ways they grew up, the complications of blending two families, and the crazy and memorable mishaps all give way to a single theme that echoes through each of our hearts. Family matters.