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