18 November 2013

Gratitude for Memories – Looking Forward to RootsTech 2014

During November on facebook gratitude has been the object of discussion and I’m grateful for my memories! Earlier this year at RootsTech 2013, Dennis C Brimhall posed the question “what would our great-great-grandchildren wish we had spent our time preserving?” I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

Childhood memories. I have a memory from childhood that I never recorded but it was one of those aha moments for me – the day I came into the kitchen with “something” in my hands behind my back. My mom asked what I was hiding as she stood over the stove cooking. I pulled my hands out from behind me and showed her my new find – a large green grasshopper! I thought she would go through the roof screaming at me. I have never touched one since! Oh how I wish I had a photo of that day to preserve that memory and to share it with my granddaughters. Even though I don’t have a photo, I just created a “story” – one funny one I can share with them.

Stashing "things'. Like many of you, my house has too many “things” in it, in boxes, storage, cupboards and shelves. Those stuffed animals, marbles, dolls, and even the little tin jar my great aunt gave me after her daughter died. I fight the urge to get rid of them. Why? Why are these things important to me? Because they represent my memories, both good and not so good!

Getting organized. I was reading one day about the process of getting organized, throwing away all those “things” that are just adding to the clutter in one's life. One of the solutions was simple – photograph the “things” and then get rid of them. It’s not necessarily the things that you can’t live without, it’s the memories that are associated with the “things”.  So are my “things” what my granddaughters would be interested in? Some of them might be, but the “things” would not mean much unless they knew why it was important to me. They want the memories I have in my head, a piece of me. We love each other and those memories will be what they remember of me.

Photo albums. As a young child I loved dragging my parent’s photo albums out. I’d sit for hours going through them and asking questions. However, I never wrote any of it down. Some people and places I remember and others I wish I did. Photos were few and far between in those days because of the expense of film and processing. However, I do have some great ones, including shots of my mom’s teenage friends that are not identified or only have a first name. I am sure they have grandchildren who would love to see them, but I don’t know who they are. We were taught to not write on photos because it might damage them. Hey, I’d be one happy soul if those photo’s had been written on!

Over the years, paper photos get lost, damaged or even passed on to only one child and then to their one child. I’m so grateful to those cousins who have posted copies of those pictures that are part of my tree! It’s the only discovered and created memory I can have. It creates a sense of self and belonging.

Journals and stories. My ancestors were not the ones who passed down journals or left their memories behind, but with a combination of a few family notes, family lore, DNA testing and the gathering of documents I’ve been able to piece together a bit of their lives. I have learned what my maiden name should have been and the unusual upbringing of my grandfather and his family. I have learned about the struggles that made them strong and other events that made them happy. I want to be able to tell them how much they mean to me when I get to the “other side”. I want them to know how grateful I am for the part they played in my life.

FamilySearch Photos and Stories. I’m grateful that FamilySearch has come to the rescue for all of us. I can upload all the photos I can get my hands on. I know those pics will be available to my grandchildren and their grandchildren. The more pics I upload the more the ancestor “comes alive” to me. Those pictures, along with the facts I gather from documents create a story or a “created memory” --a better understanding of who I am.  Pictures don’t make us, but they remind us of who we are, where we came from and where we are going.

My grandfather, as a young man playing the violin (he performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir circa 1915), his marriage to my favorite ancestor, Grandma,  and his old age - uploaded  and preserved on Family Tree Photos
That’s what I want to pass on to my grandchildren – my memories, my thoughts, my feelings, my activities and my “created memories” of those who have gone before.  What I wouldn't give to have those memories from my ancestors in their own words and pictures! If you have been lucky enough to have any of these items handed down to you, share them with your family members -- even the ones you don't currently know by adding them to FamilySearch.

RootsTech 2014 is coming in just a couple months. It’s a terrific opportunity to get started, keep going, and master the art of Family History. Take the opportunity to learn more about preserving your memories. Check out the schedule for the many classes being taught to help with organizing, digitizing, restoring, and sharing photos. Then learn how to tell the stories of yourself and your ancestors and share them with family and friends. Give your children and grandchildren the best gift you can possibly give – a gift of past memories and a better understanding of who they are and where they came from!

RootsTech 2014
February 6-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah
Register today for RootsTech 2014 here
Check out the schedule here

Come and enjoy – stay a few days and visit the Family History Library, visit the local sites, go skiing or enjoy the shopping! Salt Lake has it all. And it’s beautiful during the winter – typically snow in the mountains and not much in the valley.  This year the TRAX light rail runs from the airport to town in just a few short minutes. See you there!