Family Memories Preserved
How are your family memories preserved? Carol Harrison makes some suggestions to help us guard our precious family histories.
Do you need have any interesting family history stories to tell us? Contact us! We would love to hear from you.
Family Memories Preserved
Family connections can be like a tangle of puzzle pieces. They all belong in the picture that is our life for each person in the family has an impact on us. The choices of generations past affected where we grew up, who we knew and where we went to school. Our family passed on traditions, belief systems and work ethics. How we choose to put these pieces into our lives is personal but the past is reflected, sometimes more than we think.
I love hearing family stories and preserving them for the next generation. In the Bible we are instructed to share the faith stories of what God has and is doing in our lives – both the good things and his judgments so the next generation will know that God is who he says he is.
Today I want to share a bit of an essay I wrote on the importance of preserving family memories.
Preserving Family Memories
Have you inherited a box of photos or a trunk of memorabilia? Are you accumulating a plethora of bits and pieces, objects which represent your life? How do you preserve the stories and memories attached to an object in order to entice the next generation to continue adding to the family story?
Preserving Family History
Some may question the need to preserve family history, to store and pass down artifacts, to go to the bother of gathering information and recording events. After all, what if no one in the next generation really cares about what happened in ours? Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her life of moving, homesteading and growing up on the United States prairie in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. In her early sixties, she sent her book called, “A Pioneer Girl”, to the publisher only to have it rejected with the comment, “People lived through this so why would they want to read about it.”
Why indeed would someone who had lived the hardships want to read about them? With the help of her daughter she revised and edited the manuscript into smaller books geared for a younger audience who had not lived through that particular era. A publisher accepted her revised work and the book came to market when Laura was sixty-five years old. They published a new one of her books each year until all eight books detailing her childhood reached the market.
Who is Preserving Your Family Memories?
A visit to Laura’s home town of DeSmet, South Dakota this past spring brought the urgency of preserving family history back to the forefront of my mind with a question I heard asked, “Who is preserving your generation’s stories and history?”
My children and grandchildren encourage, nag, or compel, the word choice depends on the day, me not just to write the stories I have collected from past generations, but to write my own stories, the stories of our immediate family and where we began. I discount the adventure they see in the tales I tell them, or its benefit. Then I remember the longing I experienced when I encouraged my parents to share their life stories and their reluctance to tell about what they had lived.
Google and Family Memories
A Google search reveals a number of websites dedicated to helping people figure out how to preserve their family stories and keep memorabilia in a useable state. It took time to sort through the myriad number of sites and glean pertinent information. On the Preserving Life Stories website it says, “It’s those family stories, the dreams and realities, the successes and failures, the joys and sorrows, life’s milestones and everyday living that give definition and depth to our families and keeps us connected to those loved ones that have gone on before us. We’re creating a legacy.”
Keeping a record of family history allows for a cultural connection to form even when a family has mixed ethnic backgrounds. It helps the present generation connect with the cultures of their ancestors which helped shape who they are today. It can help families trace or find their origins, illuminate vital hereditary information and provide a living connection with the past.
Ways to Record Family History
There are a variety of ways to record family history. The easiest time is while we can still remember many of the details. By writing our family stories now, our children will have the opportunity to ask questions to help fill in gaps we may have missed. It gives us a chance to dialogue, to share lessons learned and memories made.
In a day when Twitter and Facebook seem to give us glimpses into people’s everyday lives, they also pose a drawback to truly preserving memories. The vast amount of material, photos and sound bite size postings make retrieval of specific information more difficult. How much do we omit since the world is viewing it and not just trusted friends or family?
I propose a few more permanent methods of keeping family memories preserved for future generations to enjoy, to shake their heads about, and maybe even to show a few emotions as they begin to feel connected to people who might otherwise only be a face in an old grainy photo or a name bandied about by the old people.
- Scrapbooking has become very popular in recent years, but in reality has been around, in various forms, for centuries. This method allows a combination of photos, small memorabilia and journal entries or short stories in one album. Today, the option of digital scrapbooking allows us to store more information in a smaller amount of room and makes it easier to share copies with many family members
- Fill in the blank memory books. There are a variety of these beautifully bound and illustrated books on the market. In addition to places for family trees, they include questions to spark a conversation or the writing of memories. One benefit of this style of memory preservation is how it answers the question, “What shall I write about?” by asking questions such as “What was a typical day in school like for you?”
- Oral storytelling. Technology offers options such as a digital voice recorder or video camera to record someone telling family stories. Questions asked during the telling can spark more details from the teller.
- Written Words. Writers may gravitate to this method first. As we listen to the stories, research additional historical information and peruse the memorabilia and photos, we begin to form the story surrounding the facts. We take the lists, the items, the pictures and add in the personal thoughts, memories, and feelings to achieve a glimpse into the characters in our family tree. Looking at the personal perspectives, we record gives us an opportunity to look at specific periods of history in a more personal manner.
The Key to Preserving Family Memories
The key to preserving memories needs to be to stop procrastinating and begin to share the stories of your life. Document how you survived various situations, historic events you lived through or life changing events. Begin to interview older living relatives, like your parents or grandparents. Get their perspective and stories recorded before it is too late. Take time to sort photos, label who is in them and why they are significant in your family’s life. Dig into why something happened or why family members reacted to an event the way they did. Then do this for your own story as well. Assemble the facts before the keepers or owners of those facts vanish.
Each family member’s recollections might be different, even though they lived through the same events. Every person has their own unique perspective. It might be interesting to try and include various perspectives to give a more well-rounded view of a specific family event.
The Trunk of Family Memorabilia
Are you ready to take out that box of bits, that trunk of family memorabilia or dig into your own photos and treasures to pass along your family’s story to the next generation?
Louisa May Alcott said, “Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell.”
Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.
Visit Carol’s website carolscorner.ca
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