I just happened upon a very relevant quote by Michael Crichton, and added one important word to it:
“If you don’t know family history, you don’t know anything. You’re a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”
So true. You are part of a huge family tree with hundreds of branches. Wouldn’t it be nice to record the stories of your own special branch on that ancient tree? If not for you, then for the new leaves that form in years to come. Let them realize that they are a part of something special, that they belong to the history of your family.
Recording your memoirs is something like cleaning out your attic. It’s waiting to be done, but is not pressing enough to be a priority. Funny thing though, the activity that appears so difficult to accomplish – so humdrum – can actually be very entertaining. Little treasures tucked away in forgotten corners are rediscovered, examined, and become items of unrealized worth.
You grab an old tennis racket or child’s toy and flashes of memory make you pause and smile. Another object is selected, maybe it belonged to your mother; maybe your son. And, as if by osmosis, you remember the long ago activity attached to it – the essence of its owner.
The experiences of your life are very much like the objects in your attic. Pick up a vague memory, turn it around in your mind and record your impressions. The more you write, the more you’ll remember. And there, you have the beginnings of your memoir.
Plans are set for Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast — I will bring the pies, my sister will bring her yearly surprise, and my “baby” brother will bring himself. What makes this year special is that the holiday falls on my father’s 83rd birthday.
Celebrating his birthday on our national day of thanks is a cosmic way of reminding me and my siblings that, unlike many of my friends and relatives, my father “Pops” is still with us to enjoy the holiday. For that we are truly grateful.
So we will sit around the dining room table — a piece of furniture used no more than three times a year — and toast the day and family. And like other Thanksgivings, we’ll learn about what the holiday was like “Way back when” there was lamb instead of turkey; huge bowls of pasta instead of mashed potatoes; and plenty of homemade wine. We’ll laugh about the inevitable kitchen disasters and family faux pas that make our family unique; and not so unique.
Thursday will be one of the few days out of the year where we will take a moment to be thankful for our blessings: a full table, lively company, and those warm, sweet family stories — especially those stories. Happy Thanksgiving and a very happy birthday Pops.
“We often take for granted the very things that deserve our gratitude.” — C. Ozik
Listen, learn, remember.
On June 17th, we will be celebrating Father’s Day. If you’re like me, finding the right gift becomes more and more of a challenge each year. “I have everything!” or “I don’t want anything!” or “Save your money!!” Pops, it’s your day and you’re going to be celebrated, like it or not.
So, what would he like? Maybe just an afternoon with you and the opportunity to talk about things that matter. Memories matter. Don’t forget the tape recorder.
I imagine that one of the reasons you are visiting the Memoirs Unlimited website is your interest in genealogy. Like me, you might have done some digging in the hopes of discovering something about your family history.
For those of us who enjoy this kind of thing, there is an excitement in finding information that fills the gaps in our family tree. I’m thrilled when I find anything new about a long gone ancestor. In fact, I just recently discovered some very basic information about my great-grandmother. It was the year she died. Finding that date was comparable to finding buried treasure.
I just wish there was MORE. You know, more data that helped describe who Grandma Rose was – how her family made a living, what they did in their spare time, what the immigration experience was like. I wondered what she might have looked like as a young woman. What were her parents like?
So, unless you run across some long-forgotten diary, your ancestral information may be fairly bare-boned. That is why I love the personal history.
Simply stated, a personal history is a life story written in first person. It is an important piece of personal literature where you are speaking directly to your reader about your life through the pages of a book. It provides the detail that sprouts leaves on your family tree.