Ever struggled with what to buy older members of the family for Christmas? Sometimes, the best thing you can give them is your time, to sit and listen to the stories they have to tell about their younger years. There is a rising popularity in preserving family history, with programmes such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ capturing the imagination and inspiring us all to find out about our past. The older generation love nothing more than to tell tales of their misspent youth and this can be a wonderful experience for them as well as providing the future generation with an inside into their ancestor’s lives.
We look at how to capture these amazing stories and why it's important that they are passed on to the future.
Telling the Story in your own words - everyone tells their own story in their own way and being interviewed allows this, it means they can tell it exactly how they want to, warts and all. It's better for descendants that they hear the story from their own relative, and not just passed down at the mercy of Chinese Whispers.
Allowing others to join in - when someone in the family starts to tell a story, others that were present will add more detail, jumping in to correct or corroborate, making for a fuller family history picture. It's also a great way to remind other family members of things they had thought had been forgotten, giving the younger generations a fuller picture of life in the past. This is usually very comforting for family members with dementia as memories from long ago are the last to leave.
Capturing the voices from the past - how wonderful it is to see old photos of people that we miss, in familiar places. How much better it is to hear and see them talking, making us laugh - or sometimes cry. With the technology available today, it's important not to miss the chance to record these moments before it's too late. Capturing their voices, their animated faces, hearing them laugh, is easier than ever before. As technology changes, we are able to transfer those memories - as it is now possible to transfer from video to DVD, it will also be possible to preserve those memories in new ways for the future.
We have a responsibility - it would be tragic if no family stories were ever passed on. Maybe not everyone wants to start building genealogy charts, or find out who was married to Great Uncle Bill, but everyone, at some point, feels regret at not knowing who they are and where they are from - and the joy of finding long lost family.
It's a wonderful way to get a conversation going that bridges the generation gap and it's one of the best gifts to leave the future generations of your family. So go see your grandparents, your great aunts and distant cousins. Get your phones out, switch to video and get them to tell their story - so it becomes your story.