Timely Transitions

Talk about transitions! And I don’t mean from your summer shorts to your long johns. No, I’m talking about real, life-changing ones. This is the state of the family email thread running with the transition theme back and forth across town and country between my three adult kids and us: new jobs, house selling, house hunting, more new jobs, navigating new cities, traveling, and connecting with far-away family.

Interspersed with all this are: crazy memes, cat pictures (we have 12 and 1 dog between all of us), requests for prayer, good book alerts, invites to watercolor or play games virtually,  “How do you do…?” questions, and just simple “I love you’s”. We love to rejoice in each other’s small and big successes, laugh over dumb stuff, grieve together when we’re sad, and support each other in all life’s changes. This is the stuff my family communications are made of! How about yours?

Our 21st-century families may communicate a little differently than our ancestors, but the same emotions and family concerns that our grandparents experienced remain. Letters and journals make terrific material for family histories.

Their pages somehow carry the voices of their writers in remarkably tangible ways.

Have you ever read a letter from a parent when they were young, or maybe a grandparent? You can almost hear them whisper down through the years. You can feel their presence and personality coming through to touch your heart and mind. It’s powerful stuff!

Even though my communication life is pretty digital, I’ve been making it a point to send more handwritten notes this year. It’s just something I want to do personally because it delights both me and the recipients. Sometimes these notes include everyday details, sometimes it’s thoughts about world happenings or an encouraging quote.

Try it: share a recipe, a memory of a good time spent with friends, something goofy the dog did, be a little transparent.

I even have a small booklet of floral postcards that can be colored (a gift from my daughter-in-law) that I color with a gorgeous set of artist’s pencils gifted by another daughter, then send snail mail to friends and family. I know- it’s my version of refrigerator art! But honestly, don’t you still love to get “real” mail? Me too, so I send some as well.

The same “feel good” moments that we get when reading a note from a friend or rereading old family letters can be shared with others in our family to strengthen, to give a sense of belonging and place.

I’ve worked with many people over the years and one constant is the letters. Without fail, both memoir and family history authors speak of the impact of letters, both on themselves and the family members who then read their work. They often include meaningful copies of several in their books. Some books are primarily letter-based and help to bring the voices of those who went before into the warm firelight of the family circle.

During these upcoming colder winter months consider spending a relaxing evening or two pulling together your collection of family journals, letters, even notes on paper scraps and napkins. I’ll bet you have a story there, hiding in those pages, silently calling to be shared.

Will you listen? Who might need to hear these voices?

Family history and memoir projects begin with simply gathering what you have. It doesn’t have to take long and is just a place to begin. Looking for creative ideas and direction? I’d love to visit with you and talk about your story. You can reach me at karen@rememberingthetime.net.
Wishing you the best!

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    Karen Ray

    Address: 331 Bristol Avenue, Las Cruces, NM, 88001

    Phone: 575-323-1048