Family Mysteries

Don’t know what to write about? Write about what you don’t know — like family mysteries.

Why limit yourself to writing about what you know? Everyone loves a good mystery. Things you don’t know make for compelling reading too, especially when it comes to family mysteries.

Family Mysteries Passed Down

In my grandmother’s “Treasure Chest of Memories,” she wrote about a cousin who was found dead in a creek. Although malice was suspected, no one ever solved the mystery.

Is there an unsolved mystery in your family tree—or closet? Ferret out the details so the rest of the family can cogitate over it too. As you write, document what you know, but also articulate what you wish you knew.

Family Heirlooms with Mysterious Origins

Ideally, we’d know the provenance of family heirlooms and items that have been in the family for generations. The reality, however, is that we often don’t. We know who originally owned them, but we don’t know the details of the item’s origin. More importantly, we don’t know what emotional (or other) significance the item had to its owner.

Family mysteries ring

The origin of this ring is one of our family mysteries.

My mother-in-law recently gave me a turquoise ring given to her by her mother-in-law. The ring dates back one more generation; it was originally her mother-in-law’s mother. (I know; that’s complicated. It was originally my husband’s paternal great-grandmother’s ring.)

Now the gears in my brain are whirling. I wonder if she got the ring on a trip out west or whether it was an anniversary ring. Even without the facts, it’s a fun mystery to pass on—which I plan to do.

Quirky Objects and Traditions

Sometimes it’s not the origin of the object that’s the mystery. The object itself has family history or tradition implications. For instance, in her article Family Mysteries, Linda Chavez tells an enchanting story of the mysteries revealed by a little santos statue that used to face the wall on her grandmother’s dresser. That little object led her back 400 years in time to a different continent.

Estranged Family Members

This isn’t the easiest topic to address. Often, if circumstances were difficult enough to cause a family member to leave home, the rest of the family is loathe to discuss it. There may not be anyone that even knows what happened. However, these stories and their accompanying mystery are important to document for younger generations that may be searching for their roots.

Of course, that brings us to genealogy mysteries, but that’s another post. Stay tuned.

Your Turn:

As you write about these family mysteries, be sure to include why they resonate with you. It’s fine to speculate—as long as you make it clear that it’s speculation. What scenes play in your mind?

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