How much do you know about your family history?
Memories fade, but photos, letters, journals and family trees can help preserve those memories for generations to come. We learn from each other and can see how we’re different, and at the same time, not all that different, from the generations that came before us.
Preserving this history is important but can be a big task, especially during your retirement years. Here are nine easy ways you can start recording your family history today.
Preserving your family history doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Start by writing down memories and pasting photos into a basic journal or notebook. You can organize it in several ways (by year or by family member, for instance) and have family members contribute. This can even be done virtually, through email or by sharing the journal through the mail.
Feeling crafty? Creating a family tree is another tried-and-true method of preserving your family history. You can do it the old-fashioned way, on paper, or use a genealogy program online. This is a great conversation starter as you gather information from other family members.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a scrapbook full of memories is priceless. You don’t need to limit yourself to just photos, however. You can paste in letters, postcards, holiday cards, event programs and more. Or add a little envelope to tuck those items carefully inside. Find more scrapbooking ideas here.
There’s so much family history baked, boiled and stewed into the recipes you share together. Why not create a cookbook of family memories? Don’t forget to include information about the creator of the recipe, when it was enjoyed (every Thanksgiving, for example) and any other details you can add. You can even get the recipes bound into a “real” book through an online photo service.
Need some inspiration for recording your family history? Just ask! Check Google for lists such as “questions to ask your grandkids” or “dinner table conversation starters” to discuss around the table at the next family dinner or holiday party. Take notes, as this is a great way to find stories for your journal.
Have a smartphone or laptop with a camera? Record a video diary sharing your favorite memories or even what your life is like right now. Future generations will be able to see your smile and hear about what life was like in your own words.
Want to ensure your physical photos are preserved for years to come? There are many ways to digitize your physical photos and papers – you can purchase a simple scanner, ask a family member to help or ship them off to an online service.
If you really want to try something different, create a game, a case file or even bookmarks with information about the members of your family tree. There are lots of great ideas on Pinterest: search for “creative ways to preserve family history.”
Don’t let the magnitude of recording your family history stop you from getting started. Memories are made one day at a time and recording them can take time too. Don’t stress – this should be fun!
If you find any of these methods are a bit much to take on by yourself, don’t forget you can ask for help! Ask your children or grandchildren to join in and preserve your family history together.
One of the best parts of recording your family history is exactly that – recording it. It’s not always about the result as much as the journey. You never know what interesting conversations you’ll have, or what new memories you’ll create, as you document your shared memories.
Simply pick up the phone and call your kids, grandkids, siblings, cousins, in-laws, old friends or anyone else in your address book and ask, “Hi, do you remember when…”
Advent Christian Village is a retirement community founded on faith, shared values and a belief in the importance of meaningful relationships. Residents from all walks of life enjoy spending time with each other, family members and our multi-generational faith community. Together, we share stories, create memories and build each other up. Interested in learning more? We’d love to show you around. Contact us for more information or schedule a tour today.