Sunday, 6 December 2009

How to Keep Your Ancestor’s Memory Living On

This is actually an advert from, but I thought it had some nice ideas, so I thought I would share it.

We all want to honor our family’s legacy and keep their memories alive. Here are a few ways to do so.

Preserve one of their traditions. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Passing on an ancestor’s tradition is a great way of honoring their memory, whether you bake one of their classic dishes, celebrate a holiday the way they did or adopt one of their favorite pastimes.

Make an Profile Page. Each person in your family tree has his or her own profile page. This is where you can store all the information you've gathered about your ancestor including historical records, photos and stories. You can then see a timeline of all the important events in your ancestor's life. To create a profile page, simply hover over the name of someone in your online family tree and click "View profile."

Hold a family reunion. After you have discovered part of your family story, hold a reunion. This is a great time and place to share what you’ve learned about your family through pictures, stories or games. It’s also a unique opportunity to get a group of your relatives together and ask what they remember about their ancestors. It’s amazing how the stories magically unfold as memories are triggered.

Clean up or fix a headstone. Over time, headstones and graves can wear away or become damaged. In addition to tidying the area around your ancestor’s grave, or leaving flowers, replace damaged headstones or erect markers where none existed before.

Share their stories. Preserving your ancestor’s legacy can be as simple as telling stories about them to your brothers and sisters, or to your children or grandchildren. If you want to make sure the stories live on forever, try writing them down or even recording them on your ancestor’s profile page in your family tree on

Create a book. Creating a book with dates, photos and stories all recorded in one place is a great way to preserve a family member’s memory and create a new family heirloom. You can be as creative as you want and leave something that will surely be passed on for generations.

If you've been reading this blog for any time, you'll know that much of what I do around the holidays is shaped by my Mom's traditions and that I've tried to write about each of family members I knew well in a way that would tell some of their story as well as mine. The fall and winter holidays seem to hold many if not most of those traditions, but I'm finding I like to set some of my own in keeping with my views of the world. (It would perhaps be fun to read what someone might write about me when I'm no longer here... or perhaps not.)

What holiday traditions, old or new, do you try to keep?


Rick Stone said...

These are all good ideas. I like the Create a Book the best. That is why we encouraged Dad to write his book. I'll do the same one of these days, using his book and my blogs as a base. My life has not been anywhere near as fasinating as his but there are some adventures along the way, especially during the Navy and Vietnam days.

Rick Stone said...

Oh, another thing we have done. Collect all the family pictures that have been wasting away in a box somewhere (everyone probably has that picture box) and scan them onto the computer. We've done this and then made them available to anyone in the family that wants them by just transferring them to a Flash Drive.

We've found that we now look at them much more than when we had to get out the "picture box". The grand daughters love to sit in my lap and look at the pictures on the computer screen. It will also be easier to remember stories when it comes time to write them down by reviewing all the old pictures.

Just some random thoughts on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Shelley said...

Rick - I absolutely agree that putting pictures on a computer make them far more accessible and it's a lovely thought your telling stories to your granddaughters. A good number of my family stories would just scare the kiddies, so perhaps just as well I have no descendents!

When I write for the blog, my downloaded pictures are often the outline I follow.

I have scanned all my parents and grandparents photo albums on Photobucket and share the links with others who might be interested. I have started in a small way to unclutter the photos from our travels. I scan and keep any of people that I would still care to have in my life or to particularly remember. Pictures that are more like postcards are scanned and discarded. My next step will be to back up those files and figure out a safe place for the copy. Like send it to my Uncle Pat, bless him, as it's unlikely his house would burn down the same time as mine.

Stefani Twyford said...

There are so many ways we can celebrate our families and create a record of our lives so that future generations may know us. Thanks for reposting these fantastic tips and reminding people that tomorrow starts today.

Stephanie said...

Shelley -

I created a very detailed book on my family's ancestry about 10 years ago. It was not fancy, just in a notebook but everyone that got a copy loved it. It was such a fun project!

To answer your question about my kitchen...I hired someone to do the painting of the walls and cabinets. They did everything. It took about a week for the ceiling, baseboard, and all the painting. They had to repair drywall too. Ruth at The Beautiful Life recently did a kitchen post where she painted her own cabinets and she talks about that if you are interested. I think I'm going to tackle painting my living room on my own. Wish me luck!

Rick Stone said...

A fire safe is a good investment. We have three. A small one is kept in the motorhome for when we travel. One in the house is for paper: tax retuns, insurance policies, etc. The biggest one is for guns and ammo. Considering where you live you probably would not have a need for the last one. ;->

Shelley said...

Stephani -- I see your website offers services for making and saving film onto DVDs. You've just reminded me that I have some video tapes that could use moving to DVDs. I have to say it sometimes feels as though I'm continually chasing after the next development in technology!

Bonjour Madame -- Hiring out work is probably sometimes the smarter move. As a frugal person, though, I am committed to doing everything I can do for myself; I also think of it as remaining independent somehow (I think that's another word for stubborn). I will definitely check out Ruth's blog, thank you for that. And, absolutely, good luck with your livingroom. I'll look forward to seeing how that goes!

Stefani Twyford said...

Just let me know how I can help you Shelley. We provide conversion and photo restoration services as part of our overall video biography services, helping people to do exactly what it is you are writing about. Often hiring an expert is easier and more cost effective in the long run than trying to do it yourself. But I do applaud those who are doing it themselves for at least it's getting done!