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How to Leave Tangible Memories for Your Children and Grandchildren
Much of the knowledge you have about your family is unknown to your children, and will be lost over the generations. But if you leave a record for your children they can add to it for the generations that follow them. At the very least the future generations will have the record that you have left.
Things that you take for granted are things that your children would love to know about their roots and perhaps never thought to ask, just as you may have neglected to ask your own parents.
Even if you don’t know much about your family tree, you know about the family who were living when you were a child. You can preserve the stories, relate the family connections, record the favorite family recipes and organize the pictures. All of these things will serve as precious memories for your children and grandchildren when you are gone. And you don’t have to be a writer or a genealogist to do this.
1 – Record Family Connections
Whether your knowledge of who gave birth to whom is extensive or limited, remember you are just laying a foundation for future generations to build on. You can find charts for writing in your family tree online. Write down what you know and phone family members who may be able to help fill in the blanks.
2 – Share Family Stories
When people talk about tracing their roots they mean tracing the family tree back through the generations. But beyond a certain point how much interest does that really hold? It’s a list of names of people you never met. What would be meaningful to your children and grandkids are stories about the family members who peopled their childhood, or who are part of their everyday world.
Just knowing Grandma was a champion swimmer or that every generation of women has had a blue dining room can be a matter of interest to family members. And it is fun to compare your predecessor’s likes and dislikes, quirks and experiences, to your own. A notebook filled with this kind of memory keeping can be so much more valuable than just a list of names.
3 – Pass Down the Family Recipes
Most of us have pleasant childhood memories of dishes that showed up at family gatherings once upon a time: Grandma’s apple dumplings, Auntie Beth’s macaroni and cheese. And most of us don’t think about asking for those recipes until it is too late. But re-creating those dishes can awaken happy memories for everyone in the family.
So get those recipes before it’s too late and collect them into a blank journal to make a book for your children. Food is an important part of family culture and shared memories. Your children can connect to distant generations as well as future ones through shared recipes.
4 – Organize Family Pictures
Be sure that whatever family pictures you have are labeled. You may know the identity of everyone in those pictures, but would your children? Most of us have pictures we know are family, but cannot identify. And it can be very frustrating trying to figure out who these “lost” relatives are. So make sure your pictures are labeled. Then, if they are pulled out of the photo album or picture frame, they are still identifiable.
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