Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What to do With Spicy Stories

So I have a number of stories about family members, things that illuminate the personalities of the people in question. I also have reflections on what they were like based on those stories, or what I know of their lives. My problem is that the stories and reflections are not always exactly flattering.

We all have relatives that were drunks, wife beaters, petty (or not so petty) criminals, and so on. My experience is that most family stories don't focus on the unsavoury part of the people, they focus on the good things, and yet isn't the bad stuff part of what are ancestors were?

There is also the issue of what other relatives may think of what I have written. We aren't supposed to speak ill of the dead, but do I(we) really want one dimensional always nice, kind understanding people, when they might not have been nice, kind people. To a certain extent we can view our ancestors through the lens of the time they lived in. In other words, were they good people, or at least no worse than average, according to the understanding of the time?

So what to do? Try to make ancestors out to be better than they were, or present them as real people, warts and all?

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