Family Treasures: How much value is there in your paycheck?

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Family Treasures

Kathy Macdonald family display is shared by Our Values groupValues come to life when we tell the stories behind the values. This week, I am sharing family stories men and women have been telling in groups discussing the book, United America.

Millions of small groups meet each week across America. Some are classes. Some are adult discussion groups. Often, these groups are organized around questions the teacher asks participants. In several of the activities we describe in United America’s resource page, participants are invited to tell stories.

Why bother to share personal stories in a group?

As we hear family stories—we understand the importance of our values in new ways. Often, there are objects connected to these family stories—objects that may be big or small, mundane or rare. The more important the value and the family story—the more precious the object becomes.

Today, we consider a common form of money—a paycheck, which conveys priceless meaning.

Kathy MacDonald, a participant in our discussion session this week on values, brought in both a paycheck and a chunk of copper ore—and told us a story from 1910.

The ore was mined by her grandfather, and the paycheck was his, as well. All her grandparents lived in mining communities in Cornwall, England, and brought their skills to upper Michigan. The check was for $58.60, which was probably a month’s wage.

“There’s lots of history around it,” said Kathy. “Like many others, they understood machinery. It was only a few years after this that Ford began paying outrageous wages in the Detroit area, so they came down to work at Ford’s factory. It was the beginning of their second life.”

Kathy’s father was born in 1917, but only a few years later, his mother perished in a great flu epidemic. So, Kathy said, these objects represent “lots of bits of American history woven into them.”

What does a paycheck signify, today?

What object tells a story of your values and how you got them?

Your story is important

Please, share this week’s series with friends on Facebook or by Email. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them in your small group to spark discussion. If you have a moment right now, add a comment below.

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