The rush of the holiday season is almost upon us. For me, this means my college-age sons will hit the scene for a few days at Thanksgiving, then return again for a few weeks at Christmas. It’s a marvelous time to reconnect with them, my daughters and extended family as well.
But it all seems to go too quickly, and before you know it, we are back into the thrust of a new year.
Even with the busyness of the season, the holidays offer a critical time to work on building your family’s legacy. What do I mean by legacy? Your legacy is not some financial commitment, but instead, it’s the stories and values that make up your family.
Not long ago, we had an interaction with our own children where we asked them a series of questions about how I met their mother, our engagement story and our early years of marriage. I was surprised at the clarity of their memory and at the stories they told.
The power of the family legacy is what keeps a family strong—not only in this current generation but also for the generations to come. So here are five ideas for building your family legacy:
- Stories—Select 3 stories from your past that you’d like your children to know. Those stories could be like mine: how you met your spouse, how you got engaged, your first big struggle as a couple, your first job or a key life lesson. Tell those stories to your children. Even better—write them out and give them as gifts.
- Heirlooms—Pass on a family heirloom now. Pick out something of sentimental value, and make a gift to your children. Explain what the heirloom means, why it’s important and why you want it to stay in the family.
- Future Dreams—Write down your dreams for your children. Tell them what you hope for them, what you believe about them, why you love them and what makes them unique. Write it down and share those dreams.
- Give Together—Find a way to contribute as a family. This one will take some advance planning. You can take a field trip where you go visit some organizations and make a gift together. Or you can find a needy family or two and make a physical gift of goods or money. (You can use Helping Hands—www.hhmin.org—for that purpose.)
- Talk about Values—Often we assume that our children or grandchildren understand our values. But there’s nothing like a good talk around values—things like the value of hard work, the value of family, the power of integrity or the joy of persistence. Pick one of those values and tell a story around it.
Now in all of these serious activities, don’t forget to have fun! Perhaps you can pick out a favorite movie and share the movie together and the meaning it holds for you. Oh, and by the way, if you have a favorite values-based movie, share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.