by Rachel Coleman
Our family stories are complex dramas with many threads, villains and heroes, hard times and good times. How do we capture the richness of our stories with all their vitality and uniqueness? How do we convey the deep desires, the devastating setbacks and the celebrated triumphs? Preserving these narratives for future generations and sharing them with your loved ones might feel overwhelming. Here are a several options to inspire you to start today.
1. Put together a scrapbook. Take new photos and gather old photos of your ancestors and living relatives, and preserve them in a scrapbook for future generations to enjoy. Label or tag the photos with names and dates so the people can be identified.
2. Record a video. Interview family members about childhood memories, significant life events, favorite scriptures, or their testimonies. For some interview questions sure to spark engaging and enlightening conversation, check out StoryCorps’s lists of Great Questions. There’s something for practically anyone and any type of relationship.
3. Make a recipe book of your favorite family recipes or recipes that your ancestors would likely have used in their location and time period. If you have recipes from specific ancestors, save them online at FamilySearch.org in that ancestor’s profile. Or create a recipe book out of a collection of recipes, and share them with other family members.
4. Designate a special shelf for precious family objects in your home. When family members come to visit, share the stories about the memorabilia.
5. Go digital. Collect existing video tapes, 8mm film reel, or compact discs, and convert them to a digital format. Save the files in a family Google Drive or Dropbox folder, which the family can access and add to at any time, or upload the files to FamilySearch.org.
6. Make a quilt from scraps of material worn by different family members or from fabrics, shapes, and designs that symbolize your family story. Snuggle your loved ones with it while you share the stories woven in.
7. Write your own story. Your story is an integral thread of your family’s story. Join the #52Stories challenge to help you find the time, motivation, and inspiration to write them down. It doesn’t matter if you write by hand or by keyboard or record the stories using a voice recorder—only that you document it. Share your story on your FamilySearch Family Tree profile so your loved ones can access your story today and always.
Some of these ideas could be completed in an afternoon or on a rainy day. Others will take time to compile. So many of us don’t have significant chunks of time to devote to family history research, record creation, or preservation. However, we all have single minutes. A word here and a sentence there adds up to a chapter and then, over time, to a whole story. Our family stories can be preserved and shared in the single minutes we do have.
Start writing yours today.