How many times have you wondered about your distant past? From where did your family originate? Who was your great grandfather or great grandmother? Are you related to royalty, a famous explorer or revolutionary scientist?
It is a wonderful gesture to leave a gift of family history to the ones you love. Now is the time to record your knowledge about yourself, your mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members – to record your knowledge of each one, where you and the others were born, who you and they are or were, including occupations, hobbies and interests.
Also, list very crucial information about your family’s medical history, facts which may be life saving for your children or grandchildren. It is amazing how much information each of us has about our families and how deeply this information will be treasured.
Several years ago I met a retiree named George. As it was Christmas time, we talked about the holidays including gifts that meant a great deal to us. George told me of a gift he was creating for his son. He hoped his gift would be one his son will remember and treasure for years to come.
George recently purchased a small voice recorder, which he carries with him and as he recalls things about his past or facts involving his family, he records his thoughts. He said over the past two months prior to our meeting, he has recorded family information, including names, birthdates, deaths, marriages and remembrances and stories he heard from his parents and family members. At the time of our meeting George had filled four tapes and was amazed what he remembered at the oddest times.
For example, when driving in the country, George saw a barn. It was similar to his father’s barn just outside of Regina, Saskatchewan. As he drove past, he remembered the time he and his pals got caught smoking behind the barn. He said he broke into a laugh and promptly grabbed his tape recorder and recorded the smoking incident. At the same time, he recorded other farm related stories that came to mind.
In his desire to leave his son as detailed a picture of the past as possible, George contacted several relatives to fill-in some of the blanks. George then researched his roots using websites and genealogical societies. He found his on-line detective work yielded a significant amount of information and the cost, other than his time, was little or nothing.
George found the two websites: www.ancestry.ca and www.yourfolks.com as useful starting points. He contacted the Family History library, a non-denominational center, run by the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, Utah for family information.
When asked what he thought his son’s reaction would be to his gift, George answered, “Knowing my son, he will be thrilled!” When I walked away from my meeting with George, I felt uplifted and inspired. I thought, “What a wonderful, priceless gift. So special, unique and thoughtful.”
What is going to be the gift you give to your family? Here are some topics you may wish to consider as a living memory for your loved ones:
A listing and description of your values and beliefs
Things learned from grandparents, parents, children, spouse and others
What you are grateful for
Hopes for the future
Important events in your life and the lives of your relatives
Things you regret not doing
Your happiest times
Lessons learned the hard way
The importance of religion
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” Perilles (Greek statesman of Athens who died in 429 B.C.)
“A man (or woman) cannot leave a better legacy to the world than a well-educated family.” Thomas Scott.