Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Write Your Family History

I read an old African saying yesterday that really hit home with me: "the death of an old person is like the burning of a library". The importance of this saying has hit home with me personally in the past with the death of my father. I realized that all of the sudden, all the things that he felt, knew and experienced were just gone..... gone forever. It's important to get these things written down before it's too late! 

Take the time to sit down with your family and really get to know them. An afternoon with great-grandma could be just as good as reading "The Great Gatsby" and talking with Grandpa would be just like watching the movie "Pearl Harbor". The thing that makes getting these stories from your family even more rewarding is it's personal: real stories from real people in your life.

At your next family reunion, gather everyone up and settle at the feet of the patriarch/matriarch of your family and listen to what they have to say about their lives. Where did they grow up and what was life like as a kid for them? Who was their first kiss and when did they fall in love? What were their parents, home town, school and friends like? What was the most crazy thing they did as a youth? You will be amazed at the stories you get and start to see them in a whole new light.

Make sure to get it all down, either record what is being said or write like the dickens, but get it down. It's important to get it in a place that it will be remembered for generations to come.
One of the saddest things to me, when doing genealogy, is all of those ancestors forgotten. All of those people reduced to nothing but a name: maybe a date if you're lucky. Eventually the line just stops. Nothing. No record of anyone, not even a name. All those people before completely forgotten. Just like my dad, they all had lives, experiences, feelings, hopes and dreams. Without them I would not be, and I would give anything if only to have a small glimpse into those things they experienced. Think of all things you can learn from someone who has already experienced so much!

Don't let your family, or yourself for that matter, be reduced to only a name, or worse completely forgotten. WRITE IT DOWN! Be the one to start your family history, and get it down for everyone to remember.
It's important.

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