On this blog, I mostly talk about writing for general audiences and writing for publication, but today I'd like to encourage another kind of writing: writing for one's family.
Take the time, and encourage your relatives to take the time, to jot down some of the following:
--What you know of the family history
stories and memories (You know, the ones that get told and re-told
around holiday tables over the years? Write them down.)
accounts of big moments in your own life: wedding day, first job, birth
of children, etc. Maybe you've climbed a mountain or won a Pulitzer or
competed in the Olympics. Tell about it.
--Your personal accounts of
historic events: where were you and what were you doing on 9/11, during
the moon landing, during any big event for which you were alive? How did
you feel? How did the average person experience these?
experienced life: do you remember what life was like before the
internet? What have we lost that you don't want to go unremembered?
say we will no longer need personal historical documents like letters
and diaries because we document everything on social media. If you want
to know what Great-Grandma's life was like, you'll be able to look at
her Facebook account!
Well, maybe. But maybe not. The fate of our
social media accounts is not entirely under our control. And even if
all that information is preserved in perpetuity, it still might be nicer
to have the information in a more reader-friendly format.
kids may not want to read your account right now, but sometime far in
the future, they probably will. And even if they never do, someone in
your family, somewhere along the line, will get interested in family
history and will want to know this stuff. Which reminds me: label your
photographs, too. Include first and last names, and dates.