Written by: Devon Noel Lee
For several months, I have shared some of the small moments from my family’s life and the importance of recording them. I have met many people who would like to record stories but feel they don’t have any great ones.
They remind me of my eldest son who is looking for a ‘catch phrase.’ Anyone looking for the ‘great story‘ or ‘catch phase’ needs to follow my mother’s advice.
When I was a teenager and a young adult, I’ll admit to being very boy crazy. I had several boyfriends and dated often when I was between relationships. However, I couldn’t seem to find ‘the one’. My mother told me “When you stop looking you’ll find him.”
She was absolutely right. I met my husband when I wasn’t looking. In fact, I was distracted by another guy entirely. Then along came ‘the one’ and I knew it when I saw it. And as the engagement photo from above shows, there was no looking back.
Again, my oldest son keeps looking for his catch phrase. He hears me say things like:
“I love the snot out of them”
“It’s bigger than Dallas”
“Repetition is the first law of learning”
“Obedience is the first law of happiness”
“You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit, or you loose it.”
A few of these phrases are my ‘catch’ phrases, but others I have picked up from unknown sources.
The origin of the “Dallas” phrase makes some sense when you realize I grew up in Texas. It was often said that everything was bigger in Dallas. I suppose that’s where I picked it up. This phrase traveled with me when we lived in different states. Perhaps it lost its’ power in upstate New York when “The Big Apple” was certainly bigger than Dallas.
Truth be told. I didn’t set out to acquire this catch phrase (which can only be effective with a strong southern accent). It just came to me.
In contrast, my middle son achieved a ‘greatest hit’ without even trying. During dinner, the youngest son was complaining about his meal. This time, I told him that I would get his dessert if he didn’t finish. My middle boy decided he wanted in on the action and told his younger brother, “Hey! If you don’t finish dinner, I’ll eat half and mom will eat the other half.”
My eyebrow raised in skeptically. Was he attempting to thwart my parenting to get extra desserts? It really seemed like he was encouraging his younger brother in this direction. So, I did what any parent would do. I said that wasn’t going to work.
Middle boy then attempted a negotiation, “I know. We’ll cut it in fourths! I’ll eat two and you’ll eat two!”
Nice try buddy.
Since this moment, the middle son now has a ‘greatest hit.’ He didn’t set out to have one, the way my eldest son does. It just happened. We refer to his negotiation often when we talk about sharing other desserts and everyone laughs.
If my eldest son will stop trying to have a catch phrase, he’ll find one without even trying, just like his younger brother. The same principle holds true with your family stories. Stop trying to think of the great ones and start recording the ‘small ones.’ You’ll soon write the endearing ones.
Several television shows core motto is ‘Everyone has a story to tell.’ A reporter or show host will randomly select a location and knock on a door with a mission to discover the story of that person.
Initially, those selected don’t believe they have a great story. The skilled interviewer will then engaged with these individuals as they discus ‘small’ stories. Soon, the smaller stories lead to the heart-wrenching, faith promoting, or simply funny stories that make the whole show.
The best advice you can ever receive when capturing and recording your own story, is to simply start sharing any story that comes to mind. These initial stories will lead to the big ones you didn’t believe you had within.
All because “when you stop looking, they will come to you.”
Family historian, author, and home schooling mother of five, Devon Noel Lee has 20 years of genealogy and memory keeping. Her purpose to is help others capture and preserve their family history before the stories are lost forever. You can learn more about Devon’s passion for family history on Amazon.com and on her blog at A Patient Genealogist.