Strengthen your family's bonds by telling stories

While we take precautionary measures to defeat COVID-19, let’s use this time together to strengthen our family bonds.

John Harriman - 1945 39 years old

One of the best ways help families bond, is to tell stories of people we were lucky to have known. To pass on stories of the people who shaped who we are. Children love hearing stories because it gives them a better understanding of who they are, and where they come from.

Some of my best memories and life lessons came from listening to people speak about someone who was no longer here - who I could never have known except through the stories I was told. I remember sitting at my grandfather’s kitchen table as he told me about his uncle. My grandfather grew up in a small coal mining town in Cumberland, MD. His uncle was the principal of town’s grade school. One morning my grandfather was called to the principal’s office.

As my grandfather tells it, he got in trouble because he didn’t straight A’s on his report card. His uncle didn’t physically punish him as was common in the day but instead shamed him for not living up to his potential. He told my grandfather that he had a gift - a ticket out of the coal mines. He expected his nephew to use that ticket to make a better life for himself.

Now, I heard that story more than once growing up. Back then I understood what my great-uncle was saying for its face value; use the brains God gave you so, you won’t end up digging coal for the rest of your life.

Looking back, I see the real meaning the story had for my grandfather. He was expressing the love and continuing bond he had with his uncle. He was celebrating his memory and acknowledging how lucky he was to have had someone who cared enough, believed in him and gave him the confidence to reach his potential. Without ever completing high school or attending under-grad, my grandfather took the law school entrance exam and graduated first in his class.

Stories about our family and friends shines a light on whom we are. It allows our children to experience what it was like for us growing up. Who looked out for us and why? What they taught us, that we instinctively teach our children.

My grandfather’s story of his uncle held two lessons, the second I’ve only discovered recently while interviewing people for The Lucky Ones. The first being the obvious, use your talents to the fullest. The second is to cherish and appreciate the special people in our lives who we were lucky to have known, and to share those memories and celebrate them with others.

Stories like these have shaped who I’ve become, and over time made me see how it relates to what I do now. So, as we spend time with our loved ones, cooped up at home, let’s share the stories of people we were lucky to have known with our family and friends. Let’s use this time together to express the continuing bonds we have with those who have passed away. Celebrate their lives.

Joseph Alvaro is the Creator and Executive Producer of The Lucky Ones. His book, “I’m One of The Lucky Ones,” is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To watch stories visit LuckyOnesTV.com or follow @LuckyOnesTV

The Lucky Ones is an online streaming platform which celebrates the memories of those who have passed away in short videos. Drawn from the diversity of our society, people tell wonderful stories about someone special who impacted their lives. It is a testament to our common humanity.