On Being a Historian

I was near tears in laughter at my corner of the table when Mom repeated the saying that's becoming a family mantra now that I'm home again, "You know, the Historian is always listening; whatever you do or say will probably be written down for a facebook status or blog, but it will be creative!" The occasion for my laughter this time was the ever present posturing for dominance by the larger of my little brothers. The thinly veiled jabs at so-and-so's height (which factors greatly into rank in the oligarchical system of governance that has evolved among my siblings) shouldn't have been funny, but with the lighthearted mood my family was in that night, even my dad was smiling wryly from his position at the head of the table, and the offended party wasn't actually that offended.
My mom was correct in her observation. She's also noted that when she sees me quietly watching the chaos around me, she can see the cognitive wheels turning as I take it all in, figuring out how best to tell the story. She raised me; she notices everything. I confess that I do exactly that. I try to work out the perfect way to describe Riley's dry wit, James' passionate ranting, and Alex's half-smiling grunts. I want to paint with words the faces of the babies, (though at 9 and 5, Cole and Fiona are hardly babies anymore) in their antics. I've never been one to grab the camera and snap a picture, but I still want to capture each telling moment as a living scene in my memory.

I've learned to do this as, with ten other voices vying for air time, I can hardly get a word in edgewise. I craft the vignettes in my head and store them away, till they can become a text to the sister at school, a clever facebook status or, yes, a blog post. 

I'm well of aware of the responsibility I have as the Recorder of the Annals of the Pedens. Written history is very rarely unbiased.  I know that in my brain and through my fingertips, I have the power to cast my family in whatever light I wish, flattering or not. But it is not my goal to glorify or villainize, but to tell true the joy, the love, the crazy chaos that is my life and my family. 


  1. I love this, Sarah! The true writer's spirit -- "to tell true the joy, the love, the crazy chaos that is my life and my family." Your family will especially love your work as "historian" as the years go by and they turn to it to remember all that wonder.

    1. Thank you, Dr. Impson. :) I certainly hope they will appreciate it later on. :)