Personal Stories Belong In Family Trees
What does writing about your personal stories have to do with genealogy? Family history, at its core, is about connecting with loved ones. Of course, there’s the thrill of the hunt and the joy of discovery. There’s also the unmitigated delight of pouring over dusty tomes of nearly illegible script. But, beyond that, it’s about connecting.
I’m passionate about this topic because my grandmother left us such a legacy. You can do it too! Here’s why you should include writing about your personal stories in your family history pursuits:
Personal Stories Make Your Roots Accessible
Family roots don’t have to be delicate and hidden. Your family tree starts with you. By writing about your memories, you’re exposing and nourishing the roots of your tree.
For example, my great-great grandmother isn’t just a name on a chart. She was the grandmother my own grandmother adored. I know that from my grandmother’s written words, “She was woman, girl, a friend, an adviser, and a lot of things rolled into a laughing woman of medium height…”
Sharing Personal Stories Make YOU More Accessible
Family members feel a stronger connection to you through your memories and personal stories.
We often think of loved ones in a specific context. Kids, for instance, are often surprised to see their teachers outside of school. Similarly, kids think of their parents and grandparents in limited circumstances. They think of Grandma making cookies and pies or Grandpa coming to their ball games. Writing about your personal stories will help them connect to you, now and later. Your writing will give loved ones a more well-rounded view of you.
Though my grandmother died when I was a teen, through her writing I have a woman-to-woman relationship with her. Through your memories of other family members, your children and grandchildren (future or present) can also bond with ancestors.
Writing about Memories is Therapeutic
Paying it forward is great, but there are also times to be selfish. Writing about memories can be therapeutic for anyone, at any stage of life. It can help you process your memories. Plus, remembering one thing can spark recall about another, and so on. (See Write about Memories: It’s Therapeutic! for reasons why writing is healing.)
Technology Now Makes It Easy to Share Personal Stories
It’s great to write about the stories of your past in any format. However, sharing your memories—or even connecting your stories to your family tree—is easier than ever before. Ancestry.com has become the poster child for show and share. Just as you can attach scanned documents and photos to your family tree, you can also upload your stories. Family tree software is following suit.
Time is the Enemy
Okay, perhaps that’s overstated. Time is linear and technically doesn’t go any faster when you’re having fun.
Perception, especially my perception, tells another story. We think we’ll get around to writing our stories. We think we’ll remember all the details of a wonderful experience. Yet, years fly by in the blink of an eye.
Get started! There’s no time like the present.
LAURA HEDGECOCK is passionate about telling stories and connecting with others. Her book Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life will be released May 13, 2014 (Cedar Fort Publishing). She also blogs and provides memory sharing resources at TreasureChestofMemories.com You can connect with Laura via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+.