Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Give the Gift of Your Family Story

Giving gifts can be challenging when money is tight.  You want to make sure you give a gift that will be useful and appreciated.  Giving a gift that isn't needed and won't be used is no fun for the giver or the receiver.  Of course, just the fact that someone wanted to give a gift to you is a gift.  We should always appreciate gifts that are given to us even if they aren't useful.

Giving a gift of your family's story can be a way to give a useful gift.  The gift might not be as appreciated at the present time as you may like, but it has a way of increasing in value.  After my sister's death, I valued anything she had written such as entries on a calendar of what she had done.  Many of her belongings became valuable to me and I have hung on to them for all these years.  I have so many questions I would ask my parents if they were still alive.  I would love to ask my grandparents and my great grandparents questions about their lives.  When I learn more about their lives, I learn more about my own.  I begin to see answers to why I am the way I am from things I learn about them.  I hope sharing family stories with my daughters will help them understand themselves more as well as learn about their ancestors.

You probably wouldn't have time to give a completed biography of every one of your ancestors (unless you've been working on it for a long time already) as a gift to each of your family members this year, but you can give a little bit of your family story.  You can give photos.  You can create an album or a scrapbook.  You can create a video with photos.  You can do a video interview of an older family member.  You can copy audio or video recordings with family members who have passed away.  You can write down some stories from your family and add related photos to the stories.  You can share a favorite recipe from a family member.  Some of these things would cost very little to share.  Others would take more of an investment mostly of time, but each could be a unique gift that may be treasured for years.

Consider sharing your family story as a special Christmas gift this year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Parable about Life

When I saw this video, I thought how true it is of life.  When you are writing your life story maybe it will help to remember this parable.  Life is not easy and we all have challenges, but there is a purpose to life.  Hopefully as you write your story you will see the purpose in your life.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another question for your story:

How did you heat your home?

Heat in the winter time is a pretty important thing.  Different sources of heat are used.  When you were young what kind of heat did you have in your home?  What kind of heat do you have now in your home?  Did you have to work at having heat such as gathering wood and building a fire?  Or did you just turn up the thermostat to have heat?
When I was young we had a coal burning furnace.  It had a hopper which when filled completely would keep a fire burning for hours.  One of our chores as kids was to fill the hopper with coal.  The coal was in small round chunks that we shoveled into a bucket in the coal bin and then dumped into the hopper.  The coal would burn down into clinkers which had to be removed from the furnace firebox.  You didn't want to forget to fill the hopper if it was your turn.  If you forgot, the house would fill with smoke when the furnace ran out of coal.  Then everyone in the family would have to sit outside and wait for the smoke to clear out of the house.
I also learned the hard way to remember that the poker for removed the clinkers would get hot.  I accidentally let the poker touch the top of my foot.  That taught me to be much more cautious when working around the furnace.
I did enjoy the warm heat from the furnace.  It had a blower and the heat was blown through ducts into each room.  I liked to stick my feet over the side of my bed where the vent was and let them get really warmed up.  If you had wet clothes, they could dry quickly when hung over the vent.  If the power went out, the furnace still produced heat.  It just couldn't be blown throughout the house.  You had to stay close to the furnace to stay warm.  
Unfortunately burning coal leaves a fine layer of soot on the walls and ceilings, so every spring we got to wash down the walls and ceilings.  
Today I live in an all electric house.  Each room has radiant heaters in the ceilings.  I just turn on the thermostat and the heaters start to work.  I have a wood burning fireplace which gives very nice heat, but it is a lot of work to build and keep a fire going.
Write down what you did for heat throughout your life.  Write down what you liked about your source of heat and what you didn't like.  Write down what you did when your source of heat wasn't working.  Write down what source of heat your grandparents had.  Even the every day things like heat add to your story.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How Have Local Tragedies Affected Your Family?

When you write your story include how local tragedies affect your family or friends.

I didn't know anyone personally involved with the Reno Air Races Tragedy, but one of my daughters works close to where the Races are held.  Another daughter had a couple of friends who were there at the Races though fortunately were not hurt.  Many people are affected, if not first hand, through the people they know.  When the Amtrak wreck occurred a few months ago, some friends were driving behind the truck that crashed into the train.  Having a four wheel drive vehicle, they were able to help transport some of the victims from the crash site.

Although tragedies are hard to deal with, they do affect our lives.  We are who we are because of all of our experiences whether good or bad.  Recording how tragedies have affected us can be an important part of our story.

If you would like to express your condolences to victims of the Reno Air Races Tragedy you can do so at this site.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Do You Remember About Thunder Storms?

Here's another question for your life story:

What Do You Remember About Thunder Storms?

Thunder and lightning have always been frightening to me.  I want to be inside and protected.  I'm glad they don't happen too often where I live and where I have lived.

I remember a thunderstorm one summer day when we were having a 4-H club cooking class.  We had mixed up a batch of  muffins when the power went out.  Our leader had an electric oven so we weren't going to be able to cook them.  She got on the phone and called her mother-in-law who had a coal-burning cookstove still in her kitchen.  We learned how to bake in a coal-burning cookstove that one time.  I've never had the opportunity to cook that way again, but I did learn an appreciation for grandparents and great grandparents who cooked that way all the time.

I know my parents were more aware of the weather and changes that might be coming than I am.  My father knew to get his tractor back home as soon as it looked like there might be a thunderstorm coming so he wouldn't be caught out in an open field.  I remember he talked about flash floods that could sweep down a wash rapidly from a thunderstorm up in the mountains.  Of course the best part of thunderstorms is a beautiful rainbow at the end.

I think it would be interesting to read about how my ancestors who were pioneers dealt with thunderstorms.  I am sure it could be a scary experience when you are traveling across the plains with just a covered wagon or a handcart.  Since I would like to know more about their lives, perhaps some day someone will want to know more about my life.  Some day someone may want to know what you experienced and how you coped with challenges.  Write down your experiences to share with someone who may be interested in the future.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Were You Doing When You Heard About 9/11 Ten Years Ago?

Here is another question for your life story:

What were you doing when you heard about 9/11 ten years ago?

Historical events do affect our lives.  Ten years ago 9/11 was one of those events that as an American citizen you could not ignore.  The reporting of it was every where--on television, on radio, on the internet, in the newspapers and everyone was talking about it.  Where were you when you learned about it.  What did you think when you first heard.  How did your life change after it.
I didn't really pay attention to news headlines; and, although I saw the news headlines online, I didn't pay much attention to it.  When I went to work in the afternoon, the television was on.  The director of the museum where I worked was watching the reports.  That is when I found out what happened.  My daughter at school found out long before I did.  The teachers had told them what to do in case there was an attack locally.  The students were fearful of what might happen.
Now a decade later our lives have been changed.  Security alerts happen.  More security has been put in place at airports to the point of removing any rights of privacy for those who fly.  We are more fearful and less trusting because of what happened.
Write down what you felt when you heard about 9/11.  Write down how it affects your life now.  Write down you feelings about how the world is different now.  Recording how this tragedy affected you can be an important part of your life story.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What Was the Most Embarrassing Thing That Happened with Your Clothing

Another question for your life story:

What was the most embarrassing thing that happened with your clothing?

Did you ever put a shirt on inside out?  Did you ever have a seam rip out?  Did you ever put two different colors of socks on or worse wear two different shoes?  Did you ever spill food on yourself and then had to wear your clothes for the rest of the day?  

By sharing embarrassing incidents we help someone else avoid having a similar problem, or we may give comfort to someone when they know someone else had the same problem.  

Many times I have put on a blouse and left the tag sticking out on the back of the neck.  I have had kind people gently tuck the tag in for me or whisper about it so I can take care of it.  I have discovered a ripped-out seam around an armhole or missing buttons or a hem that is coming undone.  Usually I discover the problem before I go out.  But I am very grateful for kind people who try not to embarrass me, but to help me.  

Share your solutions in your history.  I've found some tape that holds the tags in place so that I don't have them sticking out of my blouse.  I have learned to carry safety pins with me just in case.  A mini sewing kit can come in handy to sew back on a button or repair a seam.  Taking time to check my clothing to see that there are not rips or tears or unsightly stains saves a lot of embarrassment.

Embarrassing incidents are part of your story.  You may help someone else by sharing even the embarrassing things from your life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What Were Your Neighbors Like?

Here's another question for your life story:

What were your neighbors like?

Neighbors can often become our best friends.  Sometimes though neighbors can become enemies.  In your lifetime what kind of neighbors have you had?

When I was growing up, our closest neighbors were half a mile away.  I don't remember playing with the neighbor's kids at their house or mine, but we did spend time together at school, at church, in 4-H clubs, riding bikes together to an activity in town, playing softball together and many other things.  

When my oldest daughter was young we lived in a large city and our neighbors were close to us.  Sometimes my daughter would be playing outside and I would lose track of where she was.  More often than not I would find her sitting on the neighbor's porch hoping their daughter would come out to play with her.

Write about the neighbors you've had in your life.  Were they friends?  How did you get to know them?  Neighbors are an important of our life story. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Do You Remember Summer Time Rain?

Another question for your life story:

Do you remember summer time rain?

When it is hot I enjoy rain storms.  Summer rain is usually very pleasant.  Just a few days ago when I was walking my dog, it started to rain.  I didn't realize it was raining to begin with.  You really couldn't feel the drops, but I could hear them falling on roofs and other objects.  It was hot so the first drops evaporated away as soon as they touched the ground.  Then the drops started to stay a little longer, but the older drops faded away as new drops hit the ground.  Looking at the sidewalk I thought, "It looks like polka dot rain."  

Sometimes summer rain storms are thunder storms.  They may knock the power out, and they can be damaging computers and other sensitve equipment.  Sometimes the rain may come so fast and hard it creates a flash flood.  Sometimes the storm creates hail.  Summer rain can be interesting.

What do you remember about summer rain storms?  Write down any memories you have?  They are part of your story.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How Did You Stay Cool in the Summer

Another question for your life story:

How did you stay cool in the summer?

When I was young we did not have air conditioning or a swamp cooler.  There may have been two or three weeks when it was hot and uncomfortable.  We never locked our doors, so we left the front door open with just the screen door shut.  A cool breeze went through the house from my bedroom window to the front door.  It made it more tolerable during those hot days.  The afternoon was the hottest and that was when we went down in our basement where it was cool.  

As an adult we used a portable swamp cooler that had to be hand filled with water.  There were a lot of trees surrounding the house which helped to keep it cooler.  Again windows provided cross ventilation especially when a cool breeze was blowing.  

Some people like to go swimming when it's hot.  I don't swim, but I have used a wet cloth to pat on me to cool down with.  I have hung a wet towel in front of a fan or put ice in front of a fan to cool down when the swamp cooler isn't working.  Ice cream and cold drinks are nice when it's hot.  

What have you done to stay cool?  Were the summers hot where you lived or were they moderate?  Did you go swimming or run through the sprinklers when it got hot?  Did you have a basement to stay in when it got hot?  Did you have a favorite foot that you enjoyed when it got hot?  Did you go camping in the mountains when it got hot?  How do you remember cooling down in the summer?  Write those memories as part of your life story. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Was Your Favorite Piece of Furniture When You Were Growing Up?

Here's another question to answer for your life story:

What was your favorite piece of furniture when you were growing up?

Do you remember a favorite comfortable chair that you would sit in when you were young?  Do you remember what the table you ate meals at looked like?  Do you remember what you bed was like?

Furniture is an important part of our life story.  If you think about the furniture you had when growing up, it will probably bring back memories of things that happened with that furniture.

I remember when my parents bought a new sofa-bed and two recliners.  We hadn't had the furniture for very long when my sister, who was teaching my Sunday School class, decided to have a party for the members of the class at our house.  Things got out of hand when several of the kids piled on one of the recliners.  It broke. 

When I think of my bed, I remember most the night our cat decided to have her kittens in my bed.  My mother didn't get much sleep that night, nor did I.

Remembering the kitchen table from my childhood brings back good memories.  Eating has always been one of my favorite things.  We rolled out cookie dough, kneaded bread and made other delicious food at the table.  We always ate family meals together around the table.  It was a red Formica table.  My dad would get out his pencil and do some of his figuring right there on the table.  The pencil washed right off from the table when he was through.  That table outlasted more than one set of chairs.  I do remember good things when I think of that table.  Here's a picture of that table.

Write down what you remember about the furniture you grew up with in your house and add to your life story. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What Was The Nicest Thing Any One Did For You?

Another question for your life story:

What was the nicest thing any one did for you?

I think a question like this can't have just one answer.  The more you think about the nice things people have done for you, the more things you think of.  This should be a great way to add to your life story.  Write down the first thing that comes to your mind.  Then as you think about more nice things that have been done for you, write them down.  Some times the incident may not have seemed like a good thing to start with, but later you discovered what a nice thing it was.

One Christmas, I was alone with my two young daughters.  It was 9:30 at night, and I didn't like answering the door after 9:00 p.m.  I hesitated to open the door.  There was only one knock.  Finally I looked out the window onto the front porch.  There was no one there.  My mind started imagining the worst things.  Maybe someone was checking to see if someone was home.  If no one was home they were planning to break in and rob or vandalize the house.  I got myself so worried that I went throughout the house making sure every window and door was locked and secured.  The next morning when I opened the front door to go out I found a bag beside the door.  Inside the bag were two baby dolls, one for each of my daughters.  It was the first time I ever experienced a Secret Santa.  Someone had done something so nice for my family, yet I had imagined the worst. 

Pick the nicest thing that happened to you and write about it.  Then write about all of the other nice things you remember too.  You will have a great addition to your story.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Books Do You Remember?

Here's another question to answer for your story:

What books do you remember?

I was thinking about books from my childhood.  I don't remember a lot of books, but I do remember some.  I can remember reading some of Dr. Seuss particularly, "Horton Hears a Who."  I remember "Mr. Popper's Penguins."  My parents read scriptures to us, and I still have a Bible story book that the cover is missing from.  We had a small set of encyclopedias which were very useful when you wanted to research a subject.  When I was in fourth grade there was a library a couple of blocks away from the school.  We had a long wait for the bus to come after school, so we would go to the library and check out books.  I remember checking out almost all of the biographies and autobiographies in the library.  I guess I've always like to read about people's life stories.  When you write your story, include the books you've read and enjoyed.  What goes into our minds does shape us and affects our thinking.  Make sure to include how what you have read has affected you. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What Kind of Clothing Do You Remember Wearing?

Another question for your story:
What kind of clothing do you remember wearing?
 I remember having to wear dresses to school.  The average length of the dresses was to the middle of the knee until my last couple of years in high school when mini skirts became the fashion.  Short dresses can be cold in the winter. I didn't want to wear shorter dresses the to the knee because it would be cold and I would have to worry about being too revealing.  I still wear dresses for some things like church and weddings and funerals and other special occasions, but I wear longer skirts now.  When I sit I don't have to worry about how I am sitting.  I don't have to tug and pull to make sure my skirt isn't too revealing.  I remember the first time I wore pants was for a trip to an amusement park.  Then there were gymnastics in school where girls were told to wear pants.  For every day things now I wear pants.  I wear tops that don't have too low or wide of necklines.  Although I may not be fashionable, I am comfortable.  I am grateful to be able to dress comfortably.
Do you remember wearing certain types of clothing?  Did you wear anything embarassing or uncomfortable?  How did you feel about it?  Why do you chose to wear the kind of clothing you do now?  Were there any special clothes that you wore at some time in your life?  Writing about the kind of clothing you wore is an important part of your life story.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Made You Feel Better When You Had a Cold?

Here's another question to answer for your story:

What made you feel better when you had a cold?

Sharing the things that helped you get well when you had a cold could be helpful to other family members.  Sometimes the older methods are very effective in helping one get well.  Getting sufficient sleep or more sleep when you are sick can help.  Drinking warm or hot water made me feel better.  My mother made a drink from honey and lemon and hot water.  The honey was soothing to the throat and the lemon juice provided vitamin C.  Gargling with warm salt water helped a lot.  

Write down the things you found that helped you feel better.  Someone in your family may really appreciate knowing the things that helped you as they may be the things that will help them feel better.  

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Volunteer with Family History

I became a friend on Facebook of the Historical Society in the area I grew up in.  Today I saw a short entry that told of my great grandfather using his team and scraper to build the canal that eventually brought water to the little town I grew up in.  I found it interesting to learn that my great grandfather was one of the main people responsible for the canal which enabled the town I grew up in to be built.  It is really nice to have the internet where we can learn things about our family that we might never have known otherwise.

I came across a way you can volunteer using your computer and help others with their family history.  There are other things to volunteer with too. You find out more about it here:   

The Vineyard Logo

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do You Remember a January Thaw?

Sometimes January seems like such a long month.  It is usually cold and the days are short.  If you work full time days it seems you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark.  Usually there is snow and ice.

Every so often where I live we get Pogonip where everything is coated with white frost.  It can be beautiful to see.  Snow is beautiful too.  Even fog can be beautiful if you don't have to travel in it.

To be honest though, when we have a January Thaw it gives me hope to make it through the winter.  We just had three days of sixty degree weather.  It was so nice I went outside and cleaned up some of the yard with only a light sweater on.  But today was cold again.

Remembering back there has usually been a January Thaw.  Depending on where I lived it might have just warmed up into the fifties instead of the sixties, but it still would feel so good.  If there was a lot of snow, it would start to melt.

One year back in the 1980's after Mount Saint Helen's had erupted I remember a winter without a January Thaw.  It was at least three months before we saw any sunshine.  We lived in a high mountain valley and the clouds never lifted out of the valley for those three months.  The snow stayed on the ground the whole time.  That was one winter I was glad to see end.

Do you remember any January Thaws?  How did you feel when the temperatures started to get warmer?  Did you feel discouraged when it got cold again?  Record your memories of January Thaws in your life story.