Making the Most of It!

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Jane Meyers-Bowen, MN

Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays come and go. Often it is a time when members from all generations gather. The focus is usually what is happening in the present time- marriages, births/deaths, moves, & graduations and of course the football game on TV.  

But as the evening relaxes, it may be a time to explore older generations’ personal stories. Many older adults may discount that their lives as not being too exciting.  But who they are, how they lived, what they survived, what they valued most about their parents and siblings, and what were their life changing moments spoken in their own words can be so rich and inspirational.

Having the conversation as well as capturing the discussion on camera and recorded voice creates a treasure for the next generation.  Sometimes we wait too long or make assumptions that we know more than we really do.

Turning the Tables

 It may be also an opportunity to share what were the things that you valve about them i.e.  How it felt learning to ride your bike with their steadying hand?  How a couple of words of support changed your mind if you were smart enough to go to graduate school. The pride you felt seeing your parents in public modeling   positive classy behavior.  The safety you felt staying overnight with your grandparents. Their patience with you learning to drive. The lessons you learned from them about work, marriage & parenting.

When I started scrapbooking I quickly learned that it’s the story that matters most.  Of the current generation of Great Grandparents many of whom lived through Model A cars, World Wars, The Great Depression, the Space Age and into the Digital Age. They have something to say to you. 

I did an intergenerational co-learning project with high school seniors a few years ago. This Senior to Senior Project was fascinating. The focus was about The Great Depression. Young adults were riveted with the stories they heard about how they survived.  The gift that they gave to the older adults was a multimedia presentation integrating the images, music, and their stories.  Each group walked away different with a full heart.