Our families can surround us like a warm cocoon or provide a welcome anchor of stability from miles away. Regardless of the distances that may separate us, our families and other loved ones can provide us with comfort and a sense of our collective history. Now is the time to gather together our family histories and related memories to preserve them for the generations to come.
Take the time now to gather information from your extended families. Find out more about the relatives you might be too young to remember and about their lives and stories. Often people wait and end up researching family ancestry later. Then, even if you can find information online, your ancestors will probably be reduced to names and birthdates. There might be a small amount of information on where they lived during a census much will have been lost.
Be sure to get your older family members to provide the details they can remember about the rest of the family. Write down as much information as you can from the birth dates, weddings and deaths, to where they lived, went to school, worked, and their family connections. Record if they served in the military and, if so, where. All of these can help you and your children, and future generations, imagine what life was like for their ancestors and gain a better understanding as to where they came from.
Take time to pay tribute to the relationships between family members. Your grandmother isn’t just your grandmother. She was also a daughter, a mother, and might be a great grandmother, as well. You can honour those key relationships with a Willow Tree figurine or other sensitive, meaningful gift. This can also be an important lesson for your children as they often fail to think about older generations as having once been children, themselves. Taking a few moments to pay tribute to these relationships can help your older loved ones feel more valued while your children learn the importance of family.
Dig out the family pictures and spend time with your family going through them. Too often we only realise later that we don’t know key details about the photographs we’ve collected or inherited. Spend time getting your older relatives to identify who is in each picture and when and where the pictures were taken. You can collect the photographs and information in albums to keep them organised. You can also help to preserve these valuable parts of your family by scanning the pictures so that you have digital backup. This will make it easier to share these pictures with your extended family.
Remember that today is part of history. Make an effort to get pictures of your family when possible but particularly during key events. Your grandparents holding your baby or gathered with your children as they grow older will be pictures you and your children will treasure forever.
Remember that families are made up of important stories of their lives. Get a video or written record of the key stories from your relatives including the stories they remember being told by earlier generations. These will help preserve these memories and the personalities and times of the people they involve.