Document the Stories of Your Life this Holiday Season
When I look back on my life and my parents’ lives, I am reminded that there are amazing stories embedded in the lives of otherwise ordinary people.
The stories of my life are an eclectic collection of highlights and lowlights, of the extraordinary and the banal. A life, probably not unlike yours, filled with joy and pain, laughter and tears, love and heartbreaks, colorful characters and interesting places, and sprinkled with a little bit of everything else. A unique life – just like everyone else’s.
Ask your parents and grandparents about the stories of their lives and look at your own life – I bet you will meet some fascinating people who have lived extraordinary moments and events. Unfortunately, in our society, we have become so obsessed with celebrities and their private lives – be they in sports, politics or entertainment – that we lose sight of the truly important people around us and their remarkable lives.
Family histories and anecdotes get lost over distance and time, as families move apart and rarely see each other except at the occasional wedding, funeral, or holiday. These stories, anecdotes, and memories are the fibers that keep us connected to our past and our future. Perhaps more of us should write these stories down and introduce older generations to future generations.
But words can only take you so far and are limited by your memory and biases. Perhaps, in addition to journals and letters, families should try to document their precious stories and moments through scrapbooks and electronic multimedia – like photography, video and audio. Consider what future generations will know of you and your family centuries from now. What a beautiful gift to leave for your great-grandchildren and theirs. What a perfect way to honor and document a family’s history and life together.
This holiday season, as families come together, as cameras and camcorders are dusted off anew, take the time to talk to and interview your grandparents and parents and children and grandchildren, videotape the conversations, photograph the faces and interactions, jot down your observations and memories, record those classic family stories that get told every year.
You may want to come prepared with some questions you want answered before your grandparents or parents pass on. You may want to record the voices and fleeting laughter and joy of your young children or grandchildren before they grow up. You may want to document and record family history and lore before it is forgotten.
From the time I was very young and all through the years, I used to bombard my grandparents with millions of questions about their youth, their childhood home, their parents and siblings; about how they met and fell in love; about the world they lived in when they were young; about their hopes and dreams, their adventures and misadventures, their regrets and successes, their happiest and saddest moments; about my parents, aunts and uncles when they were children; and on, and on, and on.
Truth be told, there isn’t a day that I don’t come up with another barrage of questions to ask my grandparents and there isn’t a day that I don’t miss them and think about them, even though they passed away nearly 25 years ago. My only regret is that I did not record them on a tape recorder or videocamera – what I wouldn’t give to hear their voices again – but I am so grateful for the questions I did ask which led to priceless conversations that I cherish more than words can say.
The holidays offer the perfect time to start documenting the stories of your and your family’s life. In this day and age, with smart phones and tablets in hand, there are no excuses. You’ll be so happy you did and so will your children’s children’s children.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Martie Hevia (c) All Rights Reserved