I read a book recently called Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. It is about a family of four, mother, father, two daughters, and the distance between them. The mother, Anya, tells stores of the Winter Garden and a peasant girl and her handsome prince, to her daughters as they grow up. Other than the stories she tells the girls, there is no love or warmth shared.
Later in life when their father dies, he makes Meredith and Nina, his daughters, promise to hear the entire fairy tale so they can understand their mother. But getting the mother to open up is a difficult process.
The three women travel back in time to Leningrad in World War II through the fairy tale of the peasant girl and her prince from start to finish. They learn about their family history because this is not just a fairy tale. It is Anya’s real life. Through clues provided by Anya to her daughters, they take a cruise to Alaska to meet a professor who was collecting stories from Leningrad survivors and what happens after they meet him is very unexpected.
This book was a great read but also reminded me of the importance of oral history. Share the stories of your family as fairy tales or factual stories or however you choose, but share them. And dig a little deeper into the story to find out just how much is fact.