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February 11, 2009

Genealogy and Family Hope Chest Step 2: Let's Talk!

Step 2 of my plan to preserve and pass on cherished family heirlooms and documents involves starting with your children and grand-children at as young an age as possible.

This part is fun. The idea is for you to brainwash your family! Entice them with stories of each treasured object - who it belonged to, where they lived, how you ended up with it and what you want to see happen to it.

Keep talking to your children, grand children and anyone else who will listen. Tell them the stories until their eyes glaze. Your hope is that someone at some point in the future will actually remember something you said.

You could even tie this in to the Ancestor Cards I made for my grandchildren, and talked about in a previous blog post. Why not create a card for each treasured object and write a description of it explaining who owned it, when, and where and how it came into your possession. Play games with your grandchildren using the cards. if you have a photo of the person who owned the object put the photo on the Ancestor Card and on the reverse put the item photo plus description. Anything that gets your children or grandchildren's attention is good.

My own grandmother told me endless stories of her family. She repeated them several times a year. She showed me objects - her husband's gold pocket watch, his watch fob and chain, her wedding ring, his signet ring, her grandmother's Prattware pot lids, her mother's special knives and forks, a toast rack her mother used ... and so on.

With each item she told me the story behind it. I knew more about Grandma's precious family objects than I did my subjects in school! Hearing the same story so many times really stuck in my mind. Yes I forgot a few, for example I have several teacups Grandma gave me but I can't for the life of me recall whose they were.

The point is to maximize the odds in favour of your family heirlooms being remembered and cherished by at least one member of your family. To do that you need to talk and show and be enthused about each item. I've done this with my sons and my grandchildren since they were little. Now my grandchildren ask to see the items, and they love the stories I tell them of their ancestors.

You'll also have a wonderful opportunity to spend some one on one time with your children or grand-children. You'll also begin to see who might be a potential candidate to carry on the torch. If you are lucky there will be one child who is intrigued and wants to know more, who asks to hear your stories.

That will bring you to other decisions later - such as who will you pass your family heirlooms to - but we'll talk about that in a later post.

For now, start talking!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea!Thanks!

M. Diane Rogers said...

Great ideas. I do like the ancestor cards but I probably need some instructions, although it's much like making a mini album, I guess. I had thought of doing one & making it flip on rings.

I have a couple of photos showing family things I have so those would be good to use. Mostly I learned about them from my parents & my Na but I'm not sure they ever meant to 'teach' me. Just answered my questions (50 times)!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Diane - I have a post that explains how I created the Ancestor Cards I'm sure there are other ways too!