Why should we bother to collect a family story? Who cares what Grandpa did in the war or where Grandma learned to drive a car? Does it really matter that some family members lived through the Depression?
Yes, it all matters, it is part of the threads that make our family fabric, it is where we draw our strength in hard times, it is how we know we are important and our stories count too! Below is an art work on exhibit at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London CT.
The art work Erebos caught my eye, for me it shows the quickly fading figures of yesterdays news. If we don’t continue to tell their stories the figures become smaller and slowly over time disappear all together, “shadows of forgotten dead” as the inscription says.
If we work to tell family stories and pass them on in a family oral tradition then we preserve some of the importance of who came before us. I found a ancestor widowed in 1835 with 12 children – talk about strong! I’d like to think I have a bit of her fortitude in me, I’ve never had the struggles she faced in those years, but I appreciate what she must of endured to raise that family and continue on!
We can’t know these ancestors fully from the bits of ancestry research and dates and census records. We can piece together a vague sense of their life. If we record the stories, via oral tradition, media and photography then we can paint a fuller picture for those in the future who wonder about the faces of the family tree.
Grab a camera, a paper, a recording device and sit down after dinner. Here are a few questions to get you started:
What was the best day of your life? Why?
What was the hardest day of your life?
How did you spend free time as a child?
Who was influential in your life and why?
Is there something you wished you had done differently, would change if you went back in time?
What was the first car you owned?
What was the first job you held and how much did you make?
Do you have other great questions to get family members talking? Leave them in the comments please so we can all use them in a gather of family stories!
Previous blog on a family story: A CT Maritime Family Story