Family History: yesterday’s memories, tomorrow’s legacy
By Lana Turnbull
We Southerners love stories and storytelling…Let’s face it, whether it’s family history told by older generations around the fireplace, or chilling legends of haunted houses and century-old cemeteries around a campfire, we love to hear them all. Note that I said hear – not read about. I’m not knocking reading by any means, and I’m a real fan of keeping journals and writing down memories to share with future generations, but one of the most appealing aspects of the Southern storytelling tradition, is how the human voice brings a tale to life.
I come to this subject, as I realize that I’m now a member of my family’s “older” generation. I’m not sure when it happened, but one day I awakened to find that I am the age my grandparents were in my earliest memories. If it were not for hereditary longevity in my mother’s family, I would already be a member of the “oldest” generation. What I realize now at my advancing age is that there are so many questions I wish I had asked my grandparents, and great aunts and uncles that now will never be answered.
Memory is an elusive thing. Recollections that were as sharp as a tack last year or even last month, can start to fade so quickly, they can elude us before we know it. That’s why it is so important to capture them before they get away. Anybody with a cell phone or hand-held digital camera can become a family historian with just a little time and effort.
Sit down with parents and grandparents, seniors from church or friends and neighbors and ask them about what it was like for them growing up. What were their favorite pastimes? Who had the greatest impact on their lives? What made them laugh? – just to get started. Few of us will pass up the chance to talk about our lives when someone is genuinely interested.
Wondering what to give as gifts this holiday season? What better gift could you give your family than a living history that can be passed down from generation to generation? Start now. Time slips away so fast. Make it a family project. Enlist your tech savvy kids to help record and edit the material and you’ll have a multi-generational activity that will open young eyes to the lives of those who came before them, their tribulations, and their triumphs. Gather the clan together and watch the magic begin…it’s always time for a good story!