Wednesday, November 7, 2012


     A friend made a remark about this blog that made me pause. He claimed that he was not a "writer," and that perhaps the blog will prod him to begin writing down the family stories. My answer to him is
"Bob, what makes you think that family stories are all about writing?"
     Just as we communicate in many ways, we pass our family stories down in many creative forms! Don't ever feel as if writing is the only way to preserve family lore. Just as some of us learn better by sight or by ear or touch, a family story is more than the written word. Pick the form of communication that that YOU find is compatible with your talents--better yet, select whatever method will inspire you to get out of your chair and tackle the project!
     Here is a list of possible story projects. I will be expanding on these topics in future posts.  Please comment if you have other creative ideas for preserving family stories.
     1.Every picture tells a story. Label your photographs with a short explanation:  who, what, when, where, why (thanks, Bob, for the photography labeling lesson).
A family tale in itself:
 oil painting of my ancestors' homestead
by a local artist in Innishatieve, Co. Tyrone,
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words. Preserve any artwork by family members. If you have a artist in the family, their story is told by the works they left behind. Are you the artist in the family? Tell your family story through your medium of choice.
3. Oral history. Oral history is older than written history. The Irish bards memorized great epics to pass down through generations. Most traditions have a rich oral tradition. Record yourself or a relative telling the family tales.
4. Lights! Camera! Action! Honestly, if I can create a family history video, anyone can. Combine photos, film, video, and sound to produce a DVD or a video to share.
5. Use your smart phone to collect family lore. Can you point and click? Then you can capture yourself or others telling family tales on your phone via its video or voice recording apps. Sharing what you shot is simply a matter of a few more clicks.
6. A friend's grandfather left his legacy in poems. The topics in this priceless treasure range from boyhood Christmas memories to political commentary. Any musicians in the family? What about a catalog of family songs, or a video of the family singing or playing together? Create a tune about Uncle Fred and his '66 Impala.
7. What family can't gather together enough  favorite recipes to put together a cookbook? Ask contributing family cooks to include a short note with each recipe, adding details such as which great grandma created the dish and when she would serve it. Food and memories--what a combination!
8. Ask others to jot down their memories. You can simply type them up, keeping the writer's own words. Begin an email collection by sending memory prompts to relatives, asking for short memories or stories. Save the emails to a jump drive or print them out to share.
       Most importantly, if you need help with any of these projects, ask for it. Can you think of a better bonding experience than to work on preserving the family history together with a relative? Do you have a young relative, or even a young person in your neighborhood, who can help you with the technical portion of shooting a video or recording a voice? Ask young relatives to help you to create artwork or books about the family. Even if you don't need the help, you might find the project more fun with a helper!