Personal Discovery for Christmas
If you want to discover more about a loved one, Storyworth is a great way to explore their stories
Last year, my sister convinced me to join her in giving my mom Storyworth for Christmas. Storyworth is a funny product to give for Christmas because it’s like assigning someone a year’s worth of homework and calling that a gift. But given that we are fast approaching Christmas, I would like to offer it as a recommendation to anyone who is looking for a gift for a parent or grandparent or any loved one whose history may still be hazy or indistinct.
The concept of Storyworth is simple. You put together a series of questions (they have many helpful suggestions to get you started) and the recipient will answer one question per week. At the end of the year, the company will compile them into a book. The default package includes one hardcover copy, but you can purchase more when the book is complete.
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I’ve been quite happy with the experience, not just because it has pushed me to explore my mom’s life, but because the nature of digital media means that even our recent past is in danger of slipping away into nothingness.
Trying to remember who we are and where we came from has become a two-fold challenge. The first challenge is one of time and motivation. I’m lucky enough to live near my mother, but our natural social patterns tend more toward discussing news or family gossip than exploring the contours of her childhood. We just don’t really have a good social pattern for sitting down and discovering more about her life.
The second challenge is retaining these stories. We could record the family stories, but the trouble then is making those recordings available, visible, and durable. You could put it on YouTube (and in fact, I did just that with my grandfather talking about how he helped build the Apollo heat shield), but now you’re at the mercy of a website, and you don’t really know how long it will exist.
It is a far more durable strategy to capture these stories in printed form. In fact, it’s almost comical that, after 20 years of digitizing everything, burning things on CD-ROM, and turning everything into websites and apps, the most reliable form of archiving is to print a physical book.
Storyworth addresses both of these challenges. It has given my mother and me the social space to talk about what I want to know about her life, the gaps in my understanding of her, what her life was like before I could have known. And, in a few weeks, we will start ordering books about her life so far.
I’m not old, but I’m certainly no longer young. As the years pass, I frequently hear from my friends that they wish they had gotten to better know their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts. We’ve grown to realize there is this knowledge gap particularly when our loved ones grow too old to remember their own story clearly.
Again, this is not a paid promotion. But I’ve enjoyed my mom’s Christmas present from last year and I think that joy is worth sharing.
Looney Tunes: Mississippi Hare
I love how efficient the setup is for this one. You can see that the writers wanted to get Bugs Bunny on a Mississippi riverboat. So we start to the lyrics of Dixieland (establish our setting), pan to some workers picking cotton and accidentally harvest Bugs (because he’s a cottontail… get it!) and inadvertently stow him away on the boat. Bugs then has to dress up like a southern gentleman so he doesn’t get thrown overboard.
Now we’re off and running. Bugs opponent in this is a southern gambler who he bamboozles, duels, beats, and dunks repeatedly into the ole Mississippi. I enjoyed the creative & fast-paced setup a lot more than the rest of the short, the gags were fine but there have been many other shorts that manage to show that kind of creativity all the way through.