I’ve tried to continue many of my childhood family’s Christmas Eve traditions with my own family. Some work, others have needed some adjustments. One Christmas Eve tradition in particular has required some adjustments.
What’s the story behind your name? Sharing the story of your name often entails sharing stories of family heritage and relationships.
Who you were named after?
Often you’ll hear that a person was named after someone who meant a lot to their parents. It isn’t always a relative. Who was that person? What role did they play in your parents’ lives? What role did they play in your life?
Let’s face it: Remembering loved ones during the holidays isn’t all kittens and rainbows. Remembering can bring feelings of loss and emptiness to the forefront.
But, there’s another truth. It’s going to happen. During the holidays, we’re going to remember—and miss—loved ones who have passed. We going to remember Christmas or Hanukkahs past.
We wonder how to bring meaning to those feelings of loss. Especially during the first holiday season after a loss, we also wonder how we’re going to get through. Here are some resources for doing just that.
Voices from the past can tug at our heartstrings like nothing else, especially if the voice belongs to a loved one. When we hear voices from the past, our recall is vivid and emotional. The voices take us back.
However, recording our voices can do more than spark recall. Hearing a voice from a relative you never knew can also forge a strong—even spiritual—connection.
In an article for Inside Magazine, Gail Snyder wrote about the priceless gift she received: a short 78 RPM recording of her uncle.
“… Uncle Yosh had inadvertently given me — a niece who did not even exist when he was killed by a Japanese sniper on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines in the waning months of World War II — a priceless gift: the chance to hear the timbre of his voice, glimpse the youthful exuberance it held and experience firsthand his impish sense of humor.”
This year, while you’re making all of your lists, don’t forget to add memory saving or memory sharing items to your Thanksgiving checklist.
I’m excited to present a guest post by Tami Koenig, aka Your Story Coach. Today she gives us tips on starting an oral history tradition during your next family gathering.
Start an Oral History Tradition during Holidays
Traditions have to start somewhere. Maybe it’s time to start your own family tradition of “listening.” Why not set aside an hour or two every Thanksgiving, Christmas or Memorial Day—whenever your whole family gathers together—to record the stories of your senior family members?
I remember my own grandparents sitting in my parents’ living room as we all relaxed after a huge celebratory dinner. It was a warm scene with family in high spirits—with my grandparents at the center of it all—and the stories would naturally start to flow.
What fall memories are special to you? Chances are that you can revive, if not re-live, a lot of them. Here are some ideas on immersing yourself in fall and fall memories. After all, the more you remember, the easier it is to share. Have fun!
As adults responsible for lawn care and not irritating the neighbors, we forget how much fun it used to be to rake leaves.
Here in the northern hemisphere, the lazy days of summer are starting to transition into the “Back to School” scramble. It’s my least favorite time of year—I hate to see the fun end and I loathe seeing my son go back to college.
Though I can’t recapture the feeling of exhilaration that most kids feel on the last day of school, I can remember it. And, I can write about it. You, too, can share what the lazy days of summer (or winter in other parts of the world) were like in your youth.
When we think about traditions, we think about the big ones, like holidays and family reunions. Listening to “8 Years Lost,” Paperclipping.com’s Round Table interview with Jackie Wood, I was struck by her yearning to remember the everyday routines and the little traditions. (Read Jackie’s Guest Post Eight Years of Memories Lost. )
Video cameras are getting smaller and less expensive. Here are some great ways to use video clips to preserve and share your memories.
If you’re blogging, it’s easy to embed a clip into your blog. If you’re using paper and pin, simply transfer the recording to a disc or USB-drive and attach the case to your notebook.
You’re not looking for an Oscar or fame. Just relax and be yourself. If you don’t want to spend time editing, remember less can be more. Try simple (short) recordings.
Read a favorite story or poem.
This not only preserves the story, but also preserves it in your voice, with your facial expressions. Your reading will not only include your emphases, but will also probably include the way that piece was traditionally read in your family.
In Spartanburg, SC, where I grew up, a department store displayed a beautiful diorama of Clement Clark Moore’s The Night before Christmas each year. In my youth, part of our Christmas Eve tradition was going downtown to the Aug W. Smith Company’s store windows and having my father read it to us.
Years later, the diorama was restored and put on display in the local history museum. My dad visited the museum and (with permission) videoed the diorama while he read it aloud. I’ll treasure this gift always.
Record your own poem
Hold you own poetry slam. Enough said.
Tell a story from your past
Just pretend your loved ones—even future loved ones—are sitting right in front of you and start your story telling. You can include visual aids (photos, tools of the trade, etc) if you’d like, but it isn’t necessary.
You don’t need a formal setting. In fact, stories told from your favorite chair provides a great welcoming backdrop.
Send a direct message to your loved ones
This is a “letter out loud.” What are the things that you want to make sure loved ones remember? What are the things that you don’t want to leave unsaid? Recording such messages can preserve the feelings of love between family members.
You can also record less momentous messages, especially for young grandchildren. If you’re packing up to go meet a new grandbaby for the first time, take a few minutes to record your activities, telling them how excited you are about their arrival. They probably won’t appreciate it for decades, but years later, it will be quite a treasure.
Record Family Occasions
Here’s where the “clip” part becomes more crucial. If you record 45 minutes of Johnny’s kindergarten graduation, people will seldom find time to watch it. If it’s a 2-minute clip featuring proud Johnny with his certificate and missing tooth in front of everyone who made the ceremony, it will be fun to look at in the future.
A Guided Tour through an Old Family Home
Going back to a family homestead? Moving out of the home in which you raised your children? Take a quick video tour of the house and rooms. (See Writing about Childhood Homes.)
By now, you have the idea and don’t need me to prompt you. Have fun!