Your story does not have to be extraordinary to be worthy of the written word. In fact, memorializing a typical day can be the key to connecting with loved ones.
I remember my younger son’s fourth grade teacher pulling me aside to describe my son’s “spacy” behavior. “Welcome to my world,” I told her. Although I sympathized with her, a part of me was grateful for someone who understood—viscerally understood—life with my son.
We hear “Walk a mile in my shoes!” with good reason. Experiencing the dust around another’s feet and the rhythms of their daily life promotes understanding and empathy.
Use a Typical Day to Explain Family Traditions
Has Sunday morning meant going to church services in your family since the seventeenth century? Was dinner a big gathering? What was a school day like in your childhood? What was a typical summer day like for you as a teenager? Has “typical” always been “different” for your family? In what way?
Describe Ancestors and Grandparents in Terms of a Typical Day.
I now realize that when we visited our grandparents, things weren’t quite “typical.” However, some of my fondest memories of my grandparents are of them doing everyday things. I think of my grandfather in his recliner reading the newspaper. I think of my maternal grandmother making biscuits with flour on her apron.
Describing a typical day of someone from a previous generation can open up a world of historical context. Working a farm in the 1890s was different than it was in the 1930s. When you interview relatives about their past (and you should!), ask them about a typical day. Have him or her describe a day in the life of the …
Describe a Typical Day to Illustrate What Life is Like for You
Convert stereotypes into understanding. If you’re a stay-at-home-mom or dad, for example, explain your day. Include not staying home, games, tantrums, and Cheerios under the couch. If you deal with a chronic disease or disability, explain how a typical day for you looks. Chances are your loved ones are curious but don’t know how to ask.
Use humor. Admitting your faults and frailties deepen connections with your readers. Although they might be envious, no one will like you better for having a perfect life. (There’s more about this in Memories of Me.) A good example of this is Joe Abercrombie’s humorous graphic about a typical day of writing. It makes you smile while you realize that talent and productivity are way different things.
Have you described a typical day in your life. Why? What insight did you gain?