Gathering Our Memories

I’ve been feeling more nostalgic recently. I think partially because February and March are when my parents were born and they have both been gone over twenty years now. And partially because my oldest and youngest sisters are expecting grandchildren in spring/early summer.

These newest members of our family will only know GrandParky and Magic Mermer through the stories they are told and the pictures they see. What family stories will be carried on and which will disappear?

What are the stories you remember of your parents and grandparents to share with your grandchildren? Do you have any memories of your great-grandparents?

Several generations ago, families usually stayed in the same community from the cradle to the grave. They grew up with their cousins and knew both the good and the bad legends of the family.

Now it is rare to meet someone who was actually born and grew up in the city or town you currently live in.

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Whatever your age, you can begin gathering the stories of your family.

Write brief stories or essays about the major events of your own life. Describe them as fully as you can. Include details such as what happened, who else was there, where it happened, how you felt.

And finish by looking back – were there any lessons learned through that experience that you’re still applying?

Then contact the oldest living members of your family and ask them to share their memories. It would be great if you could be in the same room with them with a digital recorder to capture your conversation and a camera to preserve their keepsakes.

While your smart phone could probably do double duty for you, it’s best to use a separate recorder so you can look things up on your phone without disrupting the recorder.

If you can’t sit next to your aunt or uncle or older sister, take advantage of one of the free conference call services (I use freeconferencecall.com) to record your call. Or record a Skype conversation. This way you can focus on the conversation and not on taking notes.

The stories and essays you write and the transcriptions of your family talks can form the foundation of a book about your family to share with future generations.

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Here’s an added tip. If you want future generations to be able to hear the voices you have recorded, remember to transfer them to different media periodically. I can remember my dad using a large wire recorder when I was young. In college I used reel-to-reel and cassette tapes. Now I use a digital recorder and transfer files to my computer.  My previous laptop had a CD/DVD player built in. My current one only has USB ports.

Just as we have needed to change our old super-8 home movies to VHS and then to DVD, our voice recordings also need to change media to continue to be accessible.

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Looking for suggestions on how to get started? Give me a call and let’s talk. Schedule your Enchanted Book Session here.

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