For a couple of years, my brother, Paul, and I’ve been talking about preserving family memories. Our parents and parents-in-law are gone, two of our siblings are gone, and we don’t know what the future holds. Every time someone leaves this life, an encyclopedia of information evaporates into thin air.
How many times have you heard, or even said, “I didn’t really know him”? How many times have you thought, “How would he respond in this situation?” Or, “I know we grew up together, but what happened that gave her a different outlook on life than I have?”
It was time to start documenting Linzey family memories!
To begin, two major factors had to be considered.
1) Because everyone is so busy, the process must be simple. And
2) Because writing is seen as a chore, the process must be enjoyable.
The brainstorming session began.
Proverbs 17:22 informs us that a cheerful disposition (“a merry heart”) is good medicine to the body, but discouragement causes our health to deteriorate (“dries up the bones”).
We could let each sibling take turns choosing a topic to write about, but people’s minds sometimes go blank. Several of our siblings asked, “How do we choose a topic?” So Paul chose the Rememory Card® system. (Look up “Rememory Cards” on the web.) Nevertheless, with or without cards, here is the simple process Paul wrote.
- Decide how many months you would like the project to continue.
- Each week, take turns selecting a writing prompt and those joining the fun will write a memory on that topic. Write from a half to 2 pages per memory. Paul and I decided on one memory per week, but you can choose your own time cycle. We realized that if we waited too long, we’d lose the enjoyment and the momentum.
- Write whatever you want. Nobody will censor your language or stories.
- There is no pressure or mandate to write about every topic selected. If you don’t want to write about something, skip it.
- You may write about anyone in the family. Your stories don’t have to be only about yourself, however, you should be considerate of others’ feelings when writing about your family.
- You can draw from your whole history. Consider your whole childhood as well as your adult interaction with the family.
- This is a memoir project. Memory is not always accurate. In fact, it’s been demonstrated that nobody remembers perfectly. Also, we tend to interpret as we remember. We subconsciously fill in the blanks, expand, and erase some aspects of our experiences. So, we don’t challenge anyone’s memory. Memory is specific to the individual.
- Every family has both good and bad, painful and pleasant, positive and negative, funny and serious memories. Try to get your stories to reflect a balance and a blend of these dynamics.
- Not everybody will remember what you remember, so it might be a good idea to identify the year, the location, and the writer’s name after each person’s story.
- It’s OK if your stories focus on yourself, but, if possible, find a way to bring at least one other family member into the anecdote.
- This endeavor can create priceless documentation of your family history that your grandkids and great grandkids might never know otherwise.
- Simply take turns choosing a topic, gather the stories, and have someone compile them. If the family agrees, you may find a publishing company (expensive traditional or affordable self-publishing company) to format it and turn it into a family treasure.
- Keep in mind that this memory project is for your own benefit as well as for the rest of the family. And if you get brave, as my family might, you can have it published for the general public.
Our family started in January and will complete it in October. With six of us writing, we’ll have well-over 400 pages to edit and format into a family treasure.
There are ten kids in our family, with fifteen years between the oldest and youngest. Knowing that fact alone, you may understand why there’s a lot about each other that we don’t know – even coming out of the same family, same church, and same basic culture.
The fact is, we are all different and we all interpret life differently. But all six of us thoroughly enjoyed it, and, as a side benefit, this project has drawn us all closer than we’ve ever been before.