I have to confess that I love the G word, genealogy, that is. I love it because to me it simply means family stories, and who doesn’t love stories of any kind? However, a few years ago I woke up to the fact that by spending all of my time in the very distant past, I was allowing our own family history to be lost, and I decided to do something about it.
The end product has been a series of DIY books for our children and grandchildren that chronicle just who we were and who we are. I’ve also come to the realization (although I still spend a lot of time in history) that our dead ancestors are always going to be dead, but our LIVE family is going to lose so much if we don’t take the time to record it while we are all still here!
My starting place was my own family…not my parents, my own personal little family because I suddenly realized that there are so many things that we have never told our children, things that some day will interest them: how much we paid for our house, why we chose this particular house, how much money we made when we first married, how scared we really were when those childhood illnesses struck, how hard it was to mix two families, the first meal I cooked after we married…silly things, but things worth telling.
It’s not easy, far from it! However, the end products have been something of which I am very proud, and since many of the stories are about them, my kiddos actually enjoy reading the books!
So how should you start? That’s easy. Just begin at the beginning. I started with the year our oldest child was born, and I only do one year at a time. Every book starts with THE JONES FAMILY WHO WE WERE IN 19___, and I tell them about that year, complete with our photos from that year.
Thankfully, my photos are in albums and in order. It is fairly easy to remember the years as I looked at the photos. Since I don’t have a ton of time, I actually hire various people to scan the photos for me one year at a time, and that has sped up the process drastically.
Of course, I remember things as I go, and I just jot them down and close each book with a Fragmented Memories page or three. Every paragraph is a simple memory that stands on its own.
Maybe some day in the distant future, I will bind all into one book but for now, I simply use Shutterfly. Because few of their layouts actually work for me since I use so much copy with my photos, I use the customize page feature. It works fairly well for me, with some ingenuity mixed with it!
You may want to do your own homework on companies. I stick with Shuterfly because I am familiar with it and because I want my books to match.
As I said, it’s not easy, but it is a great thing to leave behind for your children and grandchildren, and they make great personal Christmas gifts. How I wish my own mom and grandmothers had been willing to do the same for me!