Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Triggers That Help Us Write Family Stories

Me at age 3 with my parents in the backyard of my grandmother's apartment building

I have a gadget installed on my computer that allows rolling pictures from my picture file. It's on the right side of the screen and changes the picture every few seconds. I sometimes am not conscious of it but then a picture will pop up that catches my eye. There are pictures of our grandchildren at all stages, old pictures of my family and Ken's, photos from many of the trips we've taken and some of ice storms or especially pretty garden flowers. They trigger so many memories, and sometimes they make me want to write a story. The picture above gives me enough to write more than one story.

When you write family stories, it helps to have a trigger of some sort. One of the best is to sit down with an old photo album or box of old pictures. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or grab a coke. You can spend a long time looking at what happened in the past. You'll trigger many memories that will help you write more for your family story book. I have a photo album that my grandmother made for my mother on her 21st birthday. As a child, one of my favorite pastimes was to page through that album viewing pictures of my mom. I'd ask her about one and soon she'd be telling me a story. Even now, when I leaf through the pages, the stories return.

Another time when those old family stories come back to you is when you are with parts of your family and the Remember when... game begins. One person starts and pretty soon there are more memories passed around. It happens a lot after a holiday meal when families linger around the dining room table. We laugh, we cry, we shake our heads at the crazy things we once did, but we also remember enough to write a story.

Being with an older relative is one of the best ways to get ideas for your family memory book. Talk to them, ask them questions. Sometimes we know only portions of a story. Try to get the older person to give you the missing details. At times, we get tired of hearing older people repeat the stories of their childhood years or early struggles during hard times, but these people are treasures and we should treat them as such. They are literal fountains of information.

The memories of years past and momentous occasions in your own family are all around you. It's up to you to pluck them like flowers in your garden and save them for future generations of your family. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nancy,

    I spent the Blogathon writing just such blog posts based on family photographs. I'm the family genealogist, and have become the repository of many family photos, some from 100 years ago or more. I feel strongly drawn to the oldest pictures of people who died before I was born. Is there a family resemblance between me and my grandpa? What might great-aunt Martha accomplished if she hadn't died so young? Every picture tells a potentially gripping story...