We research our ancestors and often complain as to Why didn’t they write the names on the back of the photos, take photos of their homes, cars, children, pets, workplaces? Why didn’t they write their stories of their childhood, their schooldays, how they met their partners, got their first job, etc etc?
Judy Russell gave a presentation Just Three Generations in which she discussed how quickly oral history and family information can be lost in just three generations — from grandparent to child to grandchild. (If you ever get a chance to hear this presentation, definitely take it!).
And I totally agree! I wish more of that information had come down through the generations.
But hang on a minute aren’t we part of history too? Doesn’t that make you feel old?
However, stop and think about how much our lives have changed. Can you remember getting a phone line in the house? You know the ones which were firmly attached in one place. When you got your first computer? The first foray onto the internet (and prior to that the Bulletin Boards), plugging in the modem and tying up the phone line to the dismay of the others in the home.
How much have we written down of our own lives, of these changes? We are thrilled to find a diary of an ancestor and while I totally admire people who can write in a diary each day, it is not something I can do.
Many families write a Christmas newsletter that is shared around the family and this is a great way of recording these details and something all of us can do – include photos of the family, (the four footed family as well), your garden, your car and the rooms in the home. Take a photo of your Christmas tree, the particular Christmas ornaments and the history behind them your Christmas lunch. Perhaps include those special family recipes, the way Christmas is celebrated, who cooks and helps and how you spend the day.
Many of us are on Facebook and looking at the pictures of your year on Facebook are a great memory jogger for what has occurred throughout the year. (You don’t have to buy the books you see advertised, just look through your Facebook memories month by month).
Remember to record the lows of the year as well as all the highs as the tribulations of life are also important to remember as is the way we got through them. Christmas is a good time to share these photos and memories. I gave a USB of photos taken throughout the year as extra gifts a few years ago and they were the most popular item of the day. They were plugged into the TV and everyone gathered round and there were laughs and memories.
Also consider taking pictures of your local community as there is so much change occurring. We live through that change as it occurs, and it is only when someone comes back to visit that we suddenly see how much has changed.
We are all links in the chains of memories. Don’t let your family knowledge, the knowledge of your life be forgotten and not passed on. How will you record your year, your life for those to come? Think about writing the Christmas newsletter, having a photo book of the year, writing blog posts, scrapbooking the year for the creative ones amongst you, making a video and talking about the year, perhaps showing the photos and telling the story behind them. There are so many ways of sharing so don’t let your history, your life, be lost in three generations.
Helen, this reminded me of a small book given to me by our daughter a couple of years ago, “My Mum, Her Stories, Her Words”. My husband received a similar book; “My Dad…”. Each page was headed by a question eg “What type of house did you grow up in, what was the neighbourhood like?”, “What type of music did you listen to?”, “What was the craziest or most impulsive thing you ever did?” and many, many more, covering our childhoods, adolescence, early parenthood etc. As the pages were small, I retyped the questions onto the computer and we both typed our answers. A number of answers took several pages to relate. Some memories and experiences were easy to recall, some required a bit more thought. Some memories were happy, some painful. We wanted to be entirely honest. Once we completed our recollections, I made copies, giving one to each of our two daughters and keeping one for our family history folders. We were both very pleased this gift had prompted us to record aspects of our past. How I wish our ancestors had done the same.