How To Leave A Lasting Legacy With Family StoriesHow To Leave A Lasting Legacy With Family Stories

Everyone wants to be remembered. Everyone wants to leave some kind of legacy behind. We want to know that our lives have mattered. We want to know that we won't be forgotten. Perhaps that's one reason why our fascination with tracing our family trees has never been greater. We yearn to know where we come from and where we belong. At a time when people seem more dislocated than ever, our family stories reveal to us our place in the flow of history.

Unfortunately, because of the busy-ness of our lives and the distraction of increasing technology, we may be losing our stories. We don't seem to have time to sit around telling old family stories and talk about the elders and other special people that we've had in our lives. More and more, television, movies and the internet are taking the place of us sitting around the hearth and telling our stories.

Earlier in our history, families kept track of their legacy through family stories. Family legends and folklore were passed down the generations. Storytelling was the tradition. It was an oral tradition and the way we passed along our family history.

Later in our human evolution, we began to document our family births, deaths and marriages, in family Bibles and in local government records. Today both professional and armchair genealogists prepare detailed and complicated family trees. Yet these family trees can be a bit skeletal. Where are your family stories and the details of family relationships?

These are important questions because your family history is very much a really good story! It probably has everything you would need to write a really good book--whether a tantalizing novel or a dazzling memoir. Good stories have fascinating plots, a cast of well-developed characters, twists of fate and perhaps a dash of intrigue or mystery.

Classic themes play out in our lives, involving tales of love, betrayal, triumph, not to mention tales of miraculous accomplishments, quests for greatness, contentment and peace. If you know where and how to look for them, you may discover that your family history is rich in tales of love and adventure. If you haven't seen these themes play out in your life, perhaps they've played out in previous generations. Family stories can sometimes evolve into legend, like the stories that were told around the Thanksgiving table when you were a child or those stories told in front of the fireplace every Christmas or holiday season. You may be surprised to discover how much these family stories have shaped your life.

Collecting and preserving your family stories can be a little bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle together where you yourself are one of the puzzle pieces. It may require a little bit of detective work, as well as perseverance. But this ingenuity will reward you with a greater understanding of your place in the world and with an important legacy to leave to your descendants.

Ultimately, the process of preserving our family stories is like digging for buried treasure. Sometimes you have to sift through a lot of dirt, roots and rock and you may even reach a point where you think that it's not worth the effort. But if you keep going, you are sure to stumble upon pure gold.
by Susan Gabriel
References and Bibliography
Susan Gabriel, M.Ed, created the Family Time Capsule, a unique multimedia program which provides your parents & other honored elder family members, as well as the family historians and storytellers in your family, a comprehensive & easy way to build their legacy. Visit Your Family Time Capsule
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