Back in the mid-90’s, my Dad dedicated a substantial amount of time researching our family tree and history.
I remember this time period very vividly as he would always show up with some new evidence of our past – perhaps a tracing of a headstone from some remote cemetery on the East Coast or a picture that he found in a distant relative’s home… He even went so far as hiring researchers in Europe to explore very specific records that he could not access via the Internet.
Needless to say, he was VERY committed to the project!
While the tangible return of this time investment became a true family tree, the more important return became a lesson that my Dad learned.
He learned that while a person can usually be traced back through time and hung on a family tree, it’s often difficult to gain a true understanding around who they are or how they thought. I have a feeling that my Dad pondered this for quite some time.
As a result, he committed to something that has become very special to my family. He has written us kids a letter, almost weekly, since 2001.
In his own words:
“The tradition of writing a letter to my children started in the fall of 2001 when they were grown enough to be scattered around the country. Having dabbled in family genealogy for some years prior, it occurred to me that generations to come are usually left with knowing very little about their ancestors. So to leave something behind other than just a dash between my birth date and death date was one motivator, the other was to share relevant thoughts for the times.”
Dad Meets Social Media
Back in August, I decided to build a simple blog site for my Dad. I wasn’t sure if he would be willing to share his letters openly, but I thought it would be really cool if he did.
For starters, he shares an interesting perspective – one that has been shaped and molded by influences that stem from before my time. I may not be able to experience history, but I can definitely learn about it from someone who has.
Further, my Dad is a Dad. I feel fortunate to still have my Dad in my life, but many people do not. It’s always nice to have the perspective of a contemplative father-figure. Over the years, a number of individuals have requested to be added to the list of people who receive the weekly letter… why not add more?
Finally, as it aligns with social media, my Dad shares thoughts and contemplates ideas that are, often times, relevant to our world. While his perspective could stay contained to a short list of email recipients, I think that it’s worthy of being voiced. Right or wrong… he still has a perspective that others can learn from.
A recent post, and the heated comments that followed, reinforced the relevance of “perspective”. The potential for different generations to learn from one another is of great value and should be a positive experience. While not everyone agrees with this… I continue to see the value and it’s evident that others do as well.
So, long story condensed, Dad started posting his weekly letters to his new blog site – http://weekendletter.com. Here is the link:
For those of you who already have children, consider writing them a letter filled with your perspectives on life. While I can’t be 100% certain about the impact it will have on your children, I can absolutely attest to how special the letters from Dad have been to me. Thank you Dad!
What traditions do you keep with your children?
When your great-grandchildren ask about you, will your grandchildren be able to respond?