Just Say NO to Favorites! Writing challenge
I can’t be the only one who cringes everytime I hear the word favorite. No offense intended, but asking me for my favorite ancestor or heirloom is like asking a mother to choose a favorite child. Reminds me of those moral dilemma stories they gave us in high school, where you have to pick who to save. Who do you let drown? Grandma, your first born, your baby, your spouse? In any given moment a choice may be made, but we choose differently at different times, different contexts. And whatever the choice, it’s not one I want to make forever.
So please let us agree to ban the word favorite. It’s a lazy word anyway. What you meant to ask is “Tell me about an unusual heirloom and how did you come to have it?”
This hand blown Steuben Gold Aurene Glass vase used to sit on my great grandparents piano. In the 1970’s my great aunt sent it to me wrapped in newspaper in a shoebox via regular parcel post. How it survived I will never know, but it makes me smile everytime I think about it. Objects matter in their relationship to us. In the stories they tell. What objects need to have their stories told?
Or tell me an interesting story about ice cream? I can think of many. I remember when Ortmans Ice Cream Parlor starting carrying Bubble Gum Ice cream. It was bubble gum pink with colored gumballs, but the best part was even when you finished the ice cream you still had the gum to chew. It was my first choice for awhile…I don’t have a favorite—it depends on my mood, the weather or the choices in front of me.
Favorite photo of an ancestor? Banish the thought. Way too many to choose from. Maybe it isn’t even a photo. Maybe its a painting, a word picture, a drawing, or a fancy sarcophagus. It’s fine to ask your oldest, your most unusual…but favorites, phooey. This is one of my oldest. Share an image of an ancestor that has meaning for you. I was told by a friend to go to the Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary when he heard I was going to Warwick, England. At that time I had not realized he was my 17th great grandfather. He is very pious resting his head on a swan and his hands raised in prayer.
Favorite ancestral place? Again impossible to choose. And there are so many I will likely never get the chance to travel to. Some places feel familiar, like home, even if you’ve never been there before. Some places call out to you in mysterious and magical ways. Everyone is a favorite. The word becomes meaningless. Just choose a place your ancestor(s) lived and write about it. How did it make you feel being there? What resonated with you?
Favorite DNA test? Well what are you trying to do? What is your budget? I have plenty of strategies but no clear cut favorite. If you are adopted maybe your favorite is the one that reveals your birth parents. Maybe your favorite is the autosomal test that comes closest to your known ancestral breakdown. What is best for you may change over time. Better to write about something you discovered or a mystery that was solved using DNA
Your favorite Ancestor? Well unless it’s the one leaving you gold ingots, a yacht or an exotic island, who would you choose? Much better to write about an ancestor you know little about, but piques your interest. What can you discover about your ancestor, do they who share a name with you? Which ancestor calls to you right now? Who do you want to know more about? Just pick one and see how much you can find out. That’s what I did with my 3rd great grandmother Catherine Adeline STEWART MURPHY MOSIER.
I started writing this post about how I dislike the notion of favorites. Maybe you love favorites and find no problem choosing. Lucky you! So write about your favorite piece of jewelry. Your favorite family recipe. The rest of you just pick something and write. Explore—see what more you can discover about the person, place or thing? Why does it interest you? What stories does it/he/she hold?
- Tell me about an unusual heirloom and how did you come to have it?
- Or tell me an interesting story about ice cream?
- Share an image of an ancestor that has meaning for you.
- Just choose a place your ancestor(s) lived and write about it.
- Better to write about something you discovered or a mystery that was solved using DNA
- Much better to write about an ancestor you know little about, but piques your interest.
- So write about your favorite piece of jewelry. Your favorite family recipe. The rest of you just pick something and write.
So this mini rant became a writing challenge. pick one or more of the above and use to tell a story. You don’t have to share it, but you can. Have fun. Write and try not to judge. I give you permission not to have to choose a favorite anything. Just write and enjoy where the writing takes you.
Kelly Wheaton ©2022 – All Rights reserved
I don’t really mind “favorite” being used in challenges, but I really like your expanded vocabulary choices to make the topic more interesting.
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My favourite ice-creams are apple pie, made locally and with proper apple pie blended into the ice cream. They do a nice Eton Mess and their blackcurrant cheese cake is lovely too. No manufactured added flavouring it is what is says on the tub. Biscoffi is pretty nice and I like their Jammy Dodger and Cadburys cream egg gelatos as well.
My family heirlooms are reputed to include a hoard of gold sovereigns, everyone wonders what happened to them. We never saw any riches from our family, youngest sons of youngest sons and all that.
My husband was left an ancient candlestick holder made out of tin. One of those little Wee Willie Winkie ones painted green, I can imagine him going up the stairs to check on his 12 children crammed in beds together.
He also left a small leather pouch by his aunt, they belonged to his grandfather. It was one of those with the metal hinges that you press and it opens the purse? Inside there were three dice and my husband shook the purse and rolled them onto the carpet when we came back from his aunts funeral, a 2, a 5 and a 7 in that order in a row. His grandparents lived at 257 Winwick Road. It’s the only time I have seen him cry apart from when our first daughter was born.
My favourite ancestor is the one I know who I feel the most empathy for. My 4 times great grandmother married a Calico Printer called William Jordan when she was 18 and they had 7 children together. By the time she was in her early 30’s she had buried two 7 year olds, a 5 year old, a 2 year old and a baby. She also buried her husband. She had my 3 x great grandfather illegitimately, then her son William Jordan died aged 5. She went on to have a second illegitimate son John. I don’t know how she managed to raise those two illegitimate boys into adulthood, perhaps William Jordan senior was working with dangerous dyes or asthma ran in the family or something???? Anyway, her daughter Rosa (Williams only surviving child) went on to have illegitimate twin girls one who didn’t survive. The other was named for her grandmother Ann and I found them all on the 1841 census in Bury living in the one house. The younger Ann only married after her mother and grandmother died in quick succession, the elder Ann my 4 x great grandmother was in her mid 80’s her daughter 61. The granddaughter Ann married when she was in her 40’s and there was a twist to the tale because her father was on her wedding certificate, Johnathan Beaver Manufacturer. The plot thickens eh????