Ebenezer Scrooge and A Christmas Carol was the subject of our Sunday morning sermon at church. Or rather, confronting the ghosts of your past to put behind your brokenness and narrate a new future. Writing family history and memoir can bring up some unpleasant memories and even surprises. My relationship with my mother was often contentious, and it wasn’t until I wrote the stories of her childhood that I understood that what I considered her “crazy” thinking was due to the ghosts of her past experiences as well as cultural differences. I wish I had known her stories a lot earlier.
In my own case, my parents’ divorce had a huge impact on me. The word “trust” became meaningless. Eventually, I came to the conclusion I could choose to continue to be angry and trusting of no one or I could give people the benefit of the doubt and just understand they are fallible human beings. Fortunately, by the time my children were born, I had overcome my past for the most part and did not pass a suspicious nature on to them, but I’m happy to see I did pass on a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty.
Writing your past or your family’s past can push the old ghosts out of the closet, giving you a chance to confront pain and misunderstandings and move beyond those bad experiences that shaped you are. Realize that you do not have to be who you are today. You do not have to have the same old arguments and keep the same old resentments. You have the power to start a new story.
If you are feeling pinched by something bad in your past, take a look at those old stories and perhaps you will find new understanding and a new way forward. I wish for us all that the spirit of this season gives us new ways of thinking, and new attitudes of love and forgiving, of ourselves as well as others.