Both mine and Dan’s parents are super difficult as far as holiday gifts go. They’re very settled into their lives with what they need, and don’t really want a bunch of new things. And while we’ve done some experience gifts in the past, it’s been tricky the last couple of years. Plus, with our parents getting a bit older, they’re not always up for big experiences, and things like late-night transportation and varying interests gets tricky, too. Basically, it’s really hard to find gifts for them, just like many other parents and grandparents.
Hearing and Recording Parents’ Stories
Last year, we did something a little different for Christmas gifts for parents. While Dan’s mom is very into family history and loves learning about her ancestors, she’s relatively quiet about her own life, as is Dan’s dad.
And as for my parents, it’s extremely rare for stories to be recorded in Indian culture until more recent times. Histories and stories were traditionally passed down in an oral tradition, so very few were written down. My parents are on the older end, especially my dad, who was born in the 30s in a time very different from what what is familiar to me or my children.
For both sets of parents, we’ve wanted for a long time to record their stories in some sort of meaningful way. We’ve done a few video recordings of them chatting at family get togethers, but it felt like we were missing so much. We heard a lot of the same (wonderful!) stories, but rarely got any new nuggets.
Last Christmas, we decided to gift each of our parents a subscription to Storyworth. Storyworth is an email subscription with weekly prompts to inspire people to write down meaningful memories. It’s the most beautiful conversation-style memento that captures not just the major events of a lifetime, but all the details and humor and moments that make up a whole person.
Each week, Storyworth either automatically sends a suggested prompt, you can choose one from a list, or you can create one of your own. I love that most of the prompts focus on tiny memories – favorite childhood toys, memories of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, inspiring mentors. It’s super easy for them to respond – they just respond to an email each week. There’s no need to use a complicated platform or app; just a simple email reply. Then at the end of the year, all the responses are bound together in a keepsake book.
Even better, the prompts give us something easy to discuss each week, and helps our kids feel connected to our parents, too. Sometimes it can feel awkward or challenging for them to know what to talk about, but these are such great prompts to ask further questions and to connect their grandparents’ stories to their own lives.
Storyworth has truly been the gift that has kept on giving throughout the year – both for our parents and also for us. It’s been special for them to reflect on their lives and those special moments, and it’s been a joy for us to hear each week about something we most often had never heard before (and likely never would have). It’s been such a unique gift of connection over clutter.
You can still give the gift of Storyworth – it’s perfect Christmas or any other grandparent gift idea or parent gift idea. It’s currently $10 off, so you’ll only pay $89 for a year of weekly prompts, as well as a beautiful hardcover book that compiles them all at the end. (You can also purchase extra copies of the book for other family members if you’d like.) It’s the perfect last minute gift idea!
It’s also the perfect gift for so many others – newlywed siblings, new parents, a new graduate, anyone who is difficult to shop for – it’s really such a perfect gift for anyone who would love to record their stories in a meaningful way.
I can’t wait to see all these stories bound up together – it’s going to be a gift the whole family will enjoy for years to come!