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The Power of Memory in Family Legacy

In Jewish culture and the Old Testament, families celebrate the Passover. The Passover is their story of trial and suffering while in the land of Egypt. Ultimately, God delivers them from their slavery. As part of their celebration of Passover, a dinner is held with elaborate preparations and symbolism of the past.

To start the celebration, the youngest child asks the question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The question is the spur to remember—to tell the story.

Whether Jewish or not, the question is a pattern for successful family legacy. Great families remember. Enduring families look back.

Looking back produces gratitude. Looking back helps us remember the dry times but also the victories won. And every single family has them.

There is not a single family that does not have trial and difficulty no matter how much we may try to pretend. And it’s the trials that make us great.

Every family needs a time and place to remember and retell their stories. And yes, retelling is important no matter how many times we think we might have told the story. By retelling, the stories begin to stick. As the stories and memories get relived, a family gets the sense that they are larger than their current moment.

Life is not just about the next transaction, the kids that need to be raised, the next apartment, or business deal. But life is part of a bigger context and we only fit into that context.

By realizing the bigger story, we realize the importance of family, of legacy and the need to remember.

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I’d appreciate any comments back related to how you might be encouraging the power of story in your family.

About Bill High

Bill High is an author of several books and co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously: www.givingitallawaybook.com. You can find him at www.billhigh.com and sign up for his blogs there.

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