by Sara Garrity, MSW
Family is a word that comes up a lot in the Twigtale office. How can we empower families through storytelling? How can our stories help families? What insight do we gain from our own families to continue innovating our books? More questions come up as our office family grows closer. How can we support each other? If we all consider Bobby (our CEO) to be our patriarch, does that mean he has to wait until all of us have picked what flavor cupcake we want before he makes his selection? Why do we all feel much calmer now that Carrie (our co-founder) is back from New York? Who is finally going to tell me that ask too many questions?
Just like Twigtale has become a second family to us, it’s likely that you have been a member of several of during the course of your life.
Each of us a family of origin, the family we were born in to. If you were adopted or parented by different caregivers, you may have more than one. And often we create new families, our lives intertwining with others through love, marriage, children, a rock and roll band, a shared mission, or the same destination.
And like every family has a story, they also have a unique way of telling it. Some family stories are spoken, delivered by the voices of those who enjoy telling it or maybe just those who were asked. They can be conveyed through action - in the ritual of tradition, celebrating holidays, adherence to an aesthetic or the look Grandpa gives when you get too close to his tomato plants. Family stories can be written into letters, diaries, poems, emails, essays, and thinly veiled works of fiction. Some are also written into history, newspapers, unauthorized biographies and our list of inspirational quotes. And of course, stories are shared with photographs, objects, heirlooms and the space they occupy on the wall, in a wallet, or at the bottom of a forgotten box.
For Mother’s Day, The New Yorker profiled Rachel LaCour Niesen, founder of Save Family Photos. The site is “On a mission to save family stories, one photo at a time.” The idea came to Ms. Niesen after she discovered photographs of her grandfather who had recently passed away. An important piece of her family story was told through those images, one that may not have been expressed so vividly had she not found them. Now she encourages others to weave together their narratives using family photographs on her website, Facebook page and Instagram feed.
The New York Times featured Dominick Zarrillo’s essay about his son’s journey, from being bullied in childhood, coming out to him and his wife as an adult, and finally successfully defeating a law that banned gay marriage in California. His love for his son pours out of every paragraph. He relives his emotional response to a friend’s comment that gay couples should not be allowed to marry: “My vision dimmed while long-buried emotions rushed back: my little son, all alone, being picked on by bullies, being told he couldn’t walk the same path home because they said so. Why couldn’t people just treat him with respect?”
Here at Twigtale, we honor the power of the family story. We feel privileged to tell yours, and we will continue to share ours.
Above Photo (R-L): Sara Garrity, Bobby Benfield, Betina Chan-Martin, Carrie Southworth. Not pictured: Boram Yoon, Phil Starner and Nishad Chande.
"A Mother’s Day Family Photo Album." The New Yorker. Condé Nast., 9 May 2015. Web. 11 June 2015.
Zarrillo, Dominick. "A Father, a Son and a Fighting Chance." The New York Times. The New York Times Company., 14 June 2012. Web. 11 June 2015.