Derek's grandma has done an incredible job preserving her family's history since her children were little. She's saved cute letters her kids wrote when they were young, wedding invitations when they got married, and as they had their own children, she started collecting awards and more letters from her grandchildren. She's made binders full of these mementos for each of her 5 children and their family and it's been a great way for me to get a glimpse of my husband's childhood.
For Christmas, we decided to gift Derek's grandma with a Cuento book about her husband who passed away in 2002. They were married for 55 years and she still speaks of him in such a loving way. She always says that her biggest fear is that once she's gone, no one will be interested in keeping all of the family history work she's done (or continuing it), so we thought creating this book and making a copy for all of the grandchildren would give her some assurance that these stories will live on and be remembered.
We had an idea of how we wanted to write the story of Grandpa Skidmore's life, but we needed help with some of the details (i.e. quirky childhood tidbits, or where he got his PhD, etc). We spent a morning with Grandma Skidmore going through her binders of family history, looking at old photos and listening to her tell funny stories about the man she loved for over 50 years. It was such a sweet, special experience to spend that time with her and to reminisce. It made me realize that making a Cuento book isn't just about the finished product, but about taking the time to connect with family members and sharing meaningful stories together. This time we spent together was just as special as having the finished book.
Here's a little video of our experience spending the morning gathering info to make Grandpa Skidmore's book:
Even if you don't have binders-full of family history, you can still make the process of gathering family stories special by just listening to other family members talk about their memories and taking notes or recording them. My own family has little to no records of our family history or even many photos, so it is so important that I ask questions and keep a record of these stories so I can pass them on to my own kids.