Every family has the legendary tales that get told time and time again, the cherished anecdotes you can recite by heart. Like when my dad and uncle ditched high school (with 30 friends in tow) to host a pool party in their backyard — and the principal followed them home, promptly suspending everyone. Or when my mom was a door-to-door fax machine saleswoman in 1975, while she was nine months pregnant with my older sister.
These stories, in addition to many others, are the ones that we've been retelling at family get-togethers since I was little. But they don't really scrape the surface of who my parents are today, or delve into their lives' most interesting moments. And the same goes for me. I recount hilarious and wild stories from my childhood to make my kids laugh or to keep them entertained during a long car ride, but I've never touched on some of the core things that make me, me.
While all families have a treasure trove of iconic narratives on file, there are lots of things we're not talking about, too — the stuff that's not necessarily laugh-out-loud dinner party talk.
Enter StoryWorth. This online service asks the questions we don't think to, and before it's too late.
- StoryWorth One Year Storytelling with Book ($79, originally $99; storyworth.com)
How many times have you encountered someone grieving a departed family member, lamenting, "There's so many things I still wanted to ask her." Or maybe you look at your kids and think, "There's so many things they still don't know about me!" With the help of StoryWorth, that can end now.
How StoryWorth works
By signing up for the company's one year of storytelling, you or your gift recipient will receive a weekly question meant to stir up long-buried memories or unearth perspectives previously unknown. Like, what beliefs do you have that are different than your parents? Or, what was your first boss like? Or, how do you like to spend a lazy day? Or, what do you admire most about your mother?
Once you've responded to the question — which you can change if you're feeling uninspired, or curate for your gift recipient if you want to learn specific things about them — the anecdotes are saved to your account, and if you choose, shared with loved ones via email on a weekly basis.
The final result
At the end of the year, the stories are collected into one handsome hardcover book, complete with photos and captions (that you can opt to include with your responses). Prior to being published, you can pop into your online account or hop into your StoryWorth app to tweak any of your responses and give the entire tome a final edit. And then, voila, a memoir is created!
Having used the service for a few months now, I have to say StoryWorth is the sentimental, feel-good gift to give this year. Whether you're signing up your parents, siblings or spouse, or whether you're the storyteller yourself, you'll find that the weekly email stories connect you with your family and drive active, dynamic conversations that wouldn't otherwise be taking place.
You'll find yourself suddenly getting to know someone — whom you've known your whole life! Yes, the beautiful keepsake that arrives a year later is something you're all going to relish (additional copies can be purchased for $39+ and for its holiday sale through Dec. 31, the entire service is discounted from $99 to $79), but StoryWorth's real value is its ability to bring families closer through stories that were, before now, untold.
StoryWorth One Year Storytelling with Book ($79, originally $99; storyworth.com)
Note: The price above reflects the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.