Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Listening for a Legacy

The holidays provide a wonderful opportunities to get together with older relatives and hear stories from their lives. Biographies are a treasure house of lessons learned, fields full of wisdom that can be gleaned from the good and bad decisions of someone else.
My parents always encouraged me to ask questions that will help me understand the perspectives of others and I guess that has factored into my pursuing a degree in psychology and my love of acting. I spent three and a half years as a probation counselor to juveniles. As a part of the job, I would interview families and create a social history. This was my favorite and also saddest part of the job because as you might imagine, most of the family sagas were filled with dysfunction. For instance, the most violent offender on my case load took great pride in the fact that a great grandfather had killed another man with a frozen fish! I'm sure we all have a few black sheep in our family trees and I thank the Lord that his grace can deliver us from negative family baggage. Thankfully, most of us have at least a few  family members who set a great example.
Okay, I have a few suggestions for you to consider as you get together with family during the holidays. Consider setting down and recording some stories with some of those who may be approaching the final seasons of their lives. Jot notes, use the voice recorder built into your cellphone, or the video recorder, or a camcorder. Use your cellphone or a scanner to copy some of their important photos. Ask lots of questions and listen, listen, listen.You will probably laugh, cry, and learn many things that you never knew and be reminded of things that you have forgotten.
If you have the means, consider hiring a media professional, like me (unashamed self-promotion) to shoot an interview or edit your clips and photos into a presentation for your family. These make unique and meaningful gifts and can often be used in a powerful way at memorial services when our loved ones pass on.
If you are like me, too often we spend too much time at family get togethers, eating and fussing over the food and clean up, or talking about the weather and watching the game. Resolve now to prayerfully seize the opportunity to listen for your legacy so that you can pass it on.


  1. Funny thing that you posted this today. We just did a video "interview" with some relatives in another state over the weekend for my son's 6th grade history project. He's in 5th grade now, but I asked ahead to find out if there were any projects or places we could do NOW to help enhance his future assignments. The project focused on what life was like for a 10 year old 50 years ago. It was such a fun time for all of us as we listened to how different things were for them from kids today. I can't wait to put it altogether with the other side of the family. I hope to create a DVD for Christmas for everyone! Wish I had thought to ask everyone to bring a picture or two - great idea! They might have helped with bringing up more stories.

  2. That sounds like a lot of fun. The family will be blessed and your son will be proud!