It’s natural for us to concentrate on the big things in our lives. Births, weddings, funerals and family crises are among those major events around which our daily lives are built. They give us the framework that sets the course of our life journey.
Despite the importance of these big events, it’s the little things that truly define us. We may share a big event with others, but we don’t all take away the same memories or lessons. That’s because we each interpret the event through our own unique skills and experiences.
Think about your own relatives and your view of them. You know them, not wholly by viewing them through the prism of big events, but by the little things. Their habits. Their likes and dislikes, their view of life itself. The way they look and dress. The way they part their hair. The books they read or the movies or television programs they like. The way they interact with others.
The more you observe first-hand about a person, the better chance you have of actually knowing that person. Obviously, that’s easier to do with a living person you see at least occasionally. It’s more difficult when the information is filtered through others or comes primarily from old photographs, newspaper clippings and diaries.
Even in the latter cases, though, it’s worth the effort to look beyond the big things for whatever clues you can find that help you learn more about those relatives in your family tree.
Writing prompt of the day: Describe how your family spent Saturday mornings when you were a young child.
Photo: Linda Lehmer at Berkeley, Calif., coffee shop. (L.W. Lehmer collection)