Stories are my favorite.
I especially love family stories. I love to tell them, and I love to hear them.
I think that’s most likely the main reason that my novel (which I’m currently in the process of editing) incorporates some of the stories of my family that have been passed down to me. As a memory keeper and storyteller, the responsibility of holding and telling the stories of those who came before me is a weighty one.
“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” –Hamilton, Who Tells Your Story
Like so many around the world, my family is currently enthralled with Hamilton. It gets me every time, as Eliza begins to question who will tell the story of Alexander Hamilton. Who will tell the story of those who have gone before us? Cue the tears.
I like to think of stories and family traditions as my stones of remembrance. In the Old Testament stories of the Bible, the Israelites often use stone altars as memorials. In Joshua 4, Joshua chooses twelve men from each of Israel’s tribes to stack twelve stones as a memorial, a way of remembering what the Lord had done for Israel. They told, and continue to tell, the stories of their people and of their God. The Jewish people of today carry a long, rich history of storytelling, much of it pointing to the Greatest Story Ever Told: the Good News of Jesus. And though I am not Jewish, I like to think that I might carry some of this storytelling heritage as a child of God.
After all, Jesus himself was a storyteller. He used stories to teach, a concept and teaching practice that has never faded. Storytelling, especially the stories of God’s faithfulness, is in my blood and bones.
My little altars of remembrance stones don’t look like piles of rocks. Though that doesn’t stop my rock hounds from collecting them anyway! Generally, my piles of rocks look like family time and eating good food. Not surprisingly, the characters in my novel also enjoy good food together. We have passed down a tradition of togetherness, and the specific recipes and meals we share are often part of our remembrance stones. Can’t wait to share some recipes on this blog as part of our tradition cultivation!
As I’ve curated a culture of tradition in my family, we’ve settled on some stones of remembrance over the years. Here are just a few:
- Getting to choose dinner and dessert on your birthday
- Apple pie, applesauce, and dried apples in October
- Keeping certain flowers in my flowerbeds as a nod to my grandmothers
- Opening one present on Christmas Eve
Curating tradition even informs my choices about how I choose to spend my time creatively; I knit, crochet, and quilt because my grandmothers taught me how. I keep their stories alive when I share what I learned from them. Writing their stories, even if I’ve fictionalized them, makes me want to dive into their real stories even more. I want to learn from them, to seek the stories of truth, perseverance, and love, and then I want to pass those lessons on, to my own children.
“And when our children tell our story, they’ll tell the story of tonight.” –Hamilton, The Story of Tonight
What do your remembrance stones look like in your family? How do you keep family stories alive? I’d love to hear from you! Or, if you are just beginning to cultivate traditions in your family, let me know how I can support you!