On Preserving Family. Here, There, Somewhere Else

02/20/2013 01:52pm ET

Your parents’ first date. Your grandfather’s tile business. Your dad’s story of the Egyptian man who offered to buy your stepmother for 10,000 camels. The weekends your aunts and uncles spent down the Shore as kids at the Latin Casino. Your great-aunt’s stories of slumming it at prohibition-era speakeasies in New York. Your mother’s clothing label and her first big order from Neiman-Marcus. Your great-grandmother’s journey from Kiev to Ellis Island -- which turned out years later to be Philly, but Ellis Island sounds way better in the story.