Navigating the Sandwich
This Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift is Also the Ultimate in Heartfelt Giving
Storyworth preserves your family’s legendary tales, as well as the most intimate details about your mother, using just email
Last year on Mother’s Day, I was jealous.
My sister-in-law gave our mother-in-law something called Storyworth. It’s a subscription service that emails weekly questions to a loved one, and then compiles their answers into a keepsake book, preserving all their best stories, memories, and insights.
The gift opened up all kinds of conversations for the whole family, because each week we’d talk about the question, what Cheryl (my mother-in-law) would write, and how we’d answer that same question about our own lives. I was so happy my son would have this book to look back on, but wanted desperately to lock down the same memories from my own mother.
I ended up giving Storyworth to my mom over the holidays, and it’s been a fun interactive project this year. Every week I get to pick from pre-written questions, or write my own for her. As soon as Mom sends in her answer, which can include pictures as well as the story, it gets emailed to me, so I don’t even have to wait to read it. You can also choose to email answers to multiple people, but I like the idea of surprising the whole family with the gift of finished books next year.
Mom’s written down a lot of stories I already knew, like how upsetting a trip to Texas was when she was around 8, because it was the first time she’d been to the segregated South. Some stories I’ve heard a hundred times but never really thought about as an adult, like how isolating it must have been for my grandmother, a 5’10” Daughter of the American Revolution, to live across the street from my great-grandmother, a 4’11” Italian immigrant who never fully learned English. (My great-grandmother didn’t approve of her son marrying someone who wasn’t Italian, and on top of that was intimidated by how tall, educated, and, in my great-grandmother’s eyes, how very American my grandmother was.) And some things have been total surprises, like learning that my therapist mother, who can barely stand doing the math required to calculate a tip, had a professor take her aside and recommend she major in calculus.
Everyone’s stories are precious, and we all know how important it is to keep memories alive. But it can be daunting to set aside a whole day to interview a loved one, sit them down in front of a camera or microphone, or worry that you have all the right questions to ask. Storyworth takes a lot of the pressure off, and leaves you with a great keepsake all the same.
A Storyworth yearly subscription is $99 and includes one book. Additional books are $29 each.