One of my favorite gifts ever is this simple little book, The Kids Book of Family Stories, that my grandmother put together for Christmas one year. As you can see my own copy has been very much loved.
It starts off with a tree listing surnames in my family line. It is divided into two sections: the Catalans (for my paternal grandfather’s side), the Pioneers (for my paternal grandmother’s side). Each section has family history stories written directly for children.
The red and yellow Catalan banner is explained. We learn about the wars our ancestors lived through, how they sailed ships, herded sheep, and we even learn about a pirate!
We also learn about ancestors who helped build temples, who died crossing the plains, Welsh ancestors who loved music, and more.,
Now that I’m older and passing along my heritage to my children I see the great vision my grandparents had in sharing these stories with us. They didn’t know that over a decade later research would be done to show that children who know a lot about their families do better when faced with challenges. I recommend reading The Family Stories That Bind Us for more information about that research.
“The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”
I just love the message my grandparents left on the last page of the book:
“We hope you have liked these stories. Some are happy and some are very sad. Some are funny stories. But they are all true. They make us feel proud to have such good grandparents and great-grandparents. They make us feel lucky that we are able to live in a safe place where we have plenty to eat and a good warm house to live in.
“We can learn a lot from reading about our ancestors – these great-grandpas and great-grandmas. They were all poor. They sometimes slept on straw and used boxes for furniture. They didn’t have nice clothes or homes, or all the many things we have. But they were happy! Just having good families and doing what they knew was right made them happy.
“We – Avi and Yaya – hope that you kids will be the same way. We hope you will always love your parents and family more than you love things. Things someday go away, but we can always have our moms and dads, brothers and sisters if we do what is right.
“We love you, and know that your parents love you. Do what you Heavenly Father wants you to do, and you will always be happy.
“Avi and Yaya”
I am so thankful for this Kids Book of Family Stories! I am profoundly grateful for my ancestors and the heritage of faith, hard work, and ingenuity they passed on to future generations. I only hope to do the same.
*Petonets means kisses in Catalan.