November is Family Stories Month, and the beginning of a time of year that can be a strain on fragile relationships. I once saw a cartoon by Betsy Streeter in which a man handing his wife the phone says, “It’s your mother calling to initiate the awkward family misunderstandings for this holiday season.” It’s our goal to help you keep your sense of humor through the days ahead.

The Request
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The Quote

A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.
~ Ogden Nash

The Quirky Observation

Just in time for Thanksgiving leftovers:


The Quirky Fact

Dwelling on the past has negative connotations for many of us, but an old article in Scientific American Mind  cited research that found, “Rather than being a waste of time or an unhealthful indulgence, basking in memories elevates mood, increases self-esteem and strengthens relationships.” It would seem, however, that a qualifier is in order, that is, people who tend to become nostalgic when they are feeling “low-spirited or lonely,” can regain feelings of being happy, loved and protected by invoking memories of times when they overcame adversity or were supported by family and friends.

Somewhat related was a finding that having a meaningful conversation with someone also builds self-esteem and feelings of wellbeing. So, go ahead and share your stories!

The Featured Product

Time to Celebrate

Because December celebrations include the winter solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and sometimes the Hajj for Muslims, and because we wish to show respect to everyone, this slide show is focused on learning and lightheartedness – on the joy and fun of the month.
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The Quiz - Use Your Imagination this Week

Imagination by definition is about making new connections in your brain, so this exercise, which asks you to think of stories similar to our examples is likely to not only build some new dendrites but warm your heart as well.

One Thanksgiving my grandfather explained to my younger brother the custom of breaking the turkey wishbone. Eager to have his wish come true, he showed bitter disappointment when he ended up with the shorter end of the bone while my grandfather held the longer end. Grandpa said, “That’s all right, my boy; my wish was that you would get yours.”

From whom among your relatives or friends did you learn the spirit of generosity? Give an example of what he or she did.

On an icy winter night, driving though an unfamiliar neighborhood, my car slid off the road and landed in a front yard. I got out of the car and started to shovel, and people quickly came out of their houses to help. When the car was freed, I offered to pay the homeowner for any damages to his yard, but he flatly refused: “It’s worth every rut to see adversity bring out the good in people,” he said with a smile.

Tell your own story of adversity bringing out the best in people.

While remodeling my cousin Audrey’s bathroom, the contractor asked her where on the wall to position the hand-held shower attachment. Unsure, Audrey stepped into the tub. At that moment the phone rang. Audrey dashed to the phone, and said, “Can I call you back?  I’m in the shower with the contractor!”

Tell a story about a family member who misspoke and has not yet lived it down.
The Kiosk of Resources
This week’s imagination/memory exercise represents excerpted and shortened examples from the Reader’s Digest Life in These United States, which is a compilation of stories from the magazine’s column of the same name. Although the book is now nearly 25 years old, it can still delight.

Another old, but still memory-stimulating book of similar stories is A Celebration of American Family Folklore., edited by Steven J. Zeitlin, Amy Kotkin, and Holly Cutting Baker.
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Copyright (c) 2019 Kathy Laurenhue | All rights reserved.

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