Turning 10 doesn't seem to have the significance of landmark birthdays such as 1, 13 and 16. Somehow 10 gets lost between turning 1 and becoming a teenager. So for my granddaughter Sonia's 10th birthday, I contacted family members and encouraged them to provide photos of themselves when they were her age. I also sent an informal list of questions to get them thinking about childhood stories they could write about.
After gathering stories from Sonia's mom and dad, other grandparents and aunts and uncles, I crafted a homemade book titled When I Was 10 as a birthday gift for Sonia. The journal included personal memories, a poem and pictures. Each photo and story added its own flavor. This gift provided the opportunity to share family history and to encourage Sonia to treasure this milestone.
When Sonia received this special gift for her birthday, at first she looked puzzled. But with each turn of the page her smile and eyes grew wider. She realized it wasn't her story; it was a collection of each of our stories.
Relatives had shared stories that ranged from growing up in Southern California to living in Trieste, Italy, from hiking in the mountains to playing in a backyard tree house. Other memories included growing up during World War II, and speaking Spanish at home and English at school.
Fondly remembered traditions included Tamale Day, and favorite books mentioned were Black Beauty and Agatha Christie mysteries. We laughed that one aunt hated weeding on weekends while another loved reading the Saturday "funnies." We marveled at the differences between us, and cherished the fact that we were all family.
Sonia is now 14, and on rainy or lazy days she still rereads many of the stories. Her gift sits on a special shelf next to her Bible. This place of honor says it all: A family is God's gift of love.
Questions for gathering family stories
• Where did you grow up?
• What was your best friend like?
• Who were your neighbors?
• What did you like or dislike about your room?
• What books did you enjoy reading?
• What is your best or worst school memory?
• What chores did you have to do?
• What were some of your favorite foods?
• What did you want to be when you grew up?
This article appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of
Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2012 by Carol Green.
Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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