My mom forgot my birthday. She felt bad, calling the next day and apologizing.
The sad part for me is she probably won’t remember my birthday next year either. My mom has Alzheimer’s disease and is declining quickly. Family gatherings have become stressful. We tiptoe around my mom, trying to be patient with her memory lapses and repeated questions.
The one time we can all relax is when we tell family stories. There’s the time my son locked my mom in the laundry room because they were pretending she was the “bad fish.” Or the one about my grandpa pulling my mom out to the garage to see the huge dent in the fender that she somehow hadn’t realized she’d made.
These stories are valuable to my mom and to the rest of us. We are part of a larger narrative. Our family has had ups and downs and is important that we all feel a part of that resilient history.
As Christians we are part of a larger family story. The whole Bible tells us about the ups and downs of God’s people. For a long time I would skim through the genealogy of Jesus at the beginning of Matthew until I understood that it tells an important story. Abraham, Rahab, Boaz, David and Solomon are all mentioned in the genealogy. They are people who God used and who also struggled.
Tell those stories from the Bible to your kids and tell them your family’s stories as well. Researchers have found that kids who know their family’s stories have higher emotional health than those who don’t.
Christmas gatherings are the perfect time for your kids to hear their relatives’ stories for the first time or the hundredth time.
If your family is a little rusty at storytelling, have kids ask relatives these questions:
If you are not connected to extended family, you can still tell their stories if you know them. Telling the stories of your kids’ birth or adoption is also a powerful experience for kids.
What’s your favorite family story?