Monday, May 18, 2015

A Surprise Party, A Book and A Little Brother

My brother, Jim, and me

One reason for writing family stories came to light for me this weekend. I am the oldest of 4 and the only female in the bunch. Having 3 younger brothers put me in the bossy older sister category but my brothers have put up with that quite nicely. The youngest brother, Jim, turned 60 this week and he celebrated at a party his family had for him. We received an invitation but it was an 11 hour drive from our home in Kansas to his in a suburb of Chicago. After some thought, Ken and I made the decision to attend the party but decided to keep it a surprise for Jim. His wife and daughter knew we were coming but vowed to keep it a secret.

Next, I tried to think of what kind of gift to bring to my baby brother. Oh yes, he was born 2 weeks before my 16th birthday so he's always been that baby brother. He has often seemed more like a son than a brother. About a year and a half ago, during a phone conversation, I mentioned that I should make up a book of family stories for him sometime. He said he'd love nothing better than that. In fact, he sounded kind of excited. 

I, of course, meant to get right to it but let life get in the way. Suddenly, the birthday party was exactly the nudge I needed. So I went through my two large binders of hard copies of what I've written and pulled out the ones that were family stories and memories of growing up in the Chicago area. I went to a copy center and had the 167 pages copied. Then, I decided to make two more books for my other two brothers. I used 3 ring binders so they could add any future stories I might write more easily. I wrote two separate pages about both our parents' background and put those in the front. 

Then I made a cover page for the front of the book with a picture of me holding Jimmy as an infant. The title is JULIEN FAMILY STORIES AND MEMORIES with my byline and the photo. I mailed two of the books to my brothers in North Carolina and Arizona, then put Jim's in a cheery gift bag. I was kind of excited to give him this special gift but wondered how he'd react.

He was A. very surprised when we walked into the party already under way and B. really happy when he opened my gift. He told me he could hardly wait to read it. I have a feeling it will be read more than once. Jim was estranged from our parents at age 19 through no fault of his own and so he missed out on a lot of the things we three other siblings learned through those family stories we listened to our parents tell over and over. It is a most satisfying feeling for me to know that now Jim will have those stories to read as many times as he'd like. 

You, too, could make any number of people happy by doing exactly what I did for my brothers. Don't put it off.  Time flies by all too quickly. Put it on this year's To-Do List.

Me, at age 16, with Baby Brother Jimmy


  1. What a lovely gift.You have inspired me to do the same.

    1. Don't wait as long as I did! :)

  2. So glad you decided to put this together for your brothers! With the passage of time, your family book will likely be as precious, maybe more, than other family heirlooms.

    1. Never thought of it that way, Barb. But it's a nice thought!