Thursday is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is, of course, a time where we take the time to express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving is the holiday where families gather to celebrate family. Thanksgiving is a time where family stories need to be told.
Author and minister Todd Stocker says, “Stories give color to black and white information.” Another author, Studs Terkel, is quoted as saying, “Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another.”
My mother, Florence Swinburne Newhouse, used to tell us stories of her parents; of her father, Richard Swinburne, learning to drive his first car; and of the family traveling the length of Minnesota in that car, only to get stuck in the mud toward the end of the trip. Everyone had to get out, except her father, to push the car out of the mud.
My father, Frank Newhouse, told stories of his professional ice-skating career and when he and his brother, Fred Newhouse, made root beer in the basement of their house – only to have it explode: His mother, Camilla Elizabeth Swarthout Newhouse, was not happy.
My brother Douglas Newhouse was a wonderful letter writer; when he wrote a letter, it was like he was sitting in the same room with you. My son Patrick Oliver is a wonderful story teller – he has made us laugh on more than one occasion about his exploits (which were not funny at the time).
There are times I wished I had recorded the story of a family member. I did not get this done with my grandparents or parents. However, as I became interested in genealogy, I did get stories about my dad’s family from his sister, Elizabeth Newhouse Harman, before she died. Her stories about people I never met made me wish I had started collecting stories sooner.
When I do genealogy, I uncover mostly facts, but it is always fun to come across a story. For example, I recently found, as part of a biographical account, a story of a relative who said he cured his sciatica by rubbing bear grease daily onto his groin area.
So, this Thanksgiving, share a family story with your children, your spouse, your relatives, your friends. Family stories casually shared across the dinner table are those we remember in the years to come. They become our best memories of people we know and of people we have never met. We need to share family stories