In the warm summer days of 2010 when I agreed to do a talk to the local WI on 14 February 2011, it seemed ages away. I woke up this morning realising that it is not far away at all!
My subject is “You and Your Family History” and I have an hour. I’ve done talks on family history many times before and even taught adult education classes, but I decided that this time I want to stress the importance of our older generations recording their memories and family stories. Even a few thoughts in a notebook can be helpful. A family tree can be a dry thing, full of dates. Most people can construct one with a little research from birth, marriage and death certificates, and other readily available records, but for me the thing that makes it come alive is the colour from actual memories.
I am fortunate as my mother has now written two volumes of memoires from her diaries. These include all the stories about how she met my father and where, what her thoughts were on the day of my birth, descriptions of her childhood family home and the deprivations of the war years. Priceless! Maybe she should be the writer instead of me.
This Christmas maybe give a thought to recording the stories from your older relatives, even the ones that bore you to tears every year. You may not be very interested now, but there will come a time when you are and it may be too late to ask. The writers amongst you may even find some gems of inspiration for stories.
While I am on my high horse, please ask relatives to write on the back of family photographs to avoid being given a box of nameless faces. Meanwhile, I’d better get back to making some notes for my talk.