Friday, November 19, 2010

Cherished Memories

I wanted to do an article about creating heirloom memories that can be passed from generation to generation and with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner I thought I would share this family created heirloom with you.

When I was little, back in the 1940’s money was tight and the family wanted to do something special for my grandparents but were not sure exactly what to do. Then my mother came up with an idea that all family members could participate in and it wouldn’t be a strain on anyone’s pocketbook. She decided to make a holiday tablecloth and have everyone draw a simple picture of their child onto the tablecloth. The drawings were then painted to make them permanent. As I remember, each picture had the name of the grandchild it represented under it.

As I grew up, I can remember this tablecloth being used every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers. After grandma died, I have no idea what happened to the tablecloth.  I would love to know where it is today!

This might be a project that you would enjoy doing for your parents or grandparents. I can envision updating the idea using silhouette cutouts and including all members of a family group.  Then as each generation comes along, adding them to the tablecloth as well. I think this would be so much fun to see how a family grows from generation to generation!

You would probably need about 31/2 to 4 yards of muslin as the base for your tablecloth. You could decide on what type of cutouts you would use, either simple gingerbread boys and girls, the old fashioned silhouettes, or hand drawn pictures directly onto the table cloth. I think it would be nice to put each child’s name and birth date under their picture. With so many families now spread out all over the country, having them each mail their family creations to one person to finish the construction would be the simplest thing to do.

If you get started now you can have this put together and under the tree for Grandma and Grandpa. Can you imagine how thrilled they will be?
What other suggestions do you have for making heirlooms to pass from generation to generation?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Continuing Family History

As a family historian and amateur genealogist, I have found that delving into the past is a great adventure. It is interesting and exciting to learn about our ancestors and what their lives were like back in the “olden days.” There is something exhilarating about finding that lost relative and knocking down that brick wall!

But, in our quest to learn about the past history of our ancestors, are we forgetting about our families of the present?  Are we keeping up with entering new arrivals into our families?  Are we recording stories about our lives of today for future generations to enjoy?  We need to be recording these things as well so that our children, grand children  and great grand children will have first-hand knowledge of our lives and not have to just read about what the world was like when we were growing up in history books. We need to remember that someday we will be gone and someone (hopefully) is going to be looking for us!

Now that we have computers, it is so easy to start a journal of our lives and keep a running record of events. There are also web hosting locations where you can post your family tree either for free or for very little money. You can create settings where just family members are allowed in or you can leave it open for public viewing, the choice is yours.  If you do set it up where only family members are allowed on your website, be sure to record passwords for access so that when you die, others in the family are able to get in and continue your work. I presently have one website set up as family access and have one other family member listed with administrator duties.

Make your family history come alive with photographs and stories of both those of ancestors and of current members of the family. Don’t let precious stories slip away and become distant memories.

You never know when someone else in the family will be bitten by the genealogy research bug. For some it comes early in life and for others, not until our golden years. In my case, it took the death of my mother to really become interested in doing more research. Granted, I had records already compiled from my father’s side of the family because of my earlier generations doing the research in order to become members of D.A.R.

In case you are not familiar with D.A.R. it stands for Daughters of the American Revolution. There are several other organizations that one might like to join such as the C.A.R. (Children of the American Revolution) or S.A.R. (Sons of the American Revolution).

There are also southern organizations such as S.C.V. (Sons of Confederate Veterans) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy for those with Southern roots, if you wish to join.

With the passing of each generation, my family tree is blooming and becoming a forest! I am one of these people who love to not only research direct descendants but also collateral lines, so my files are becoming very extensive. I only pray that when I am gone, my work will be preserved for future generations to explore and enjoy.