The importance of family legacy can never be over emphasized. Each of us has a story from our ancestors or even our very own story to tell. If these stories are unwritten, then how are your children going to know of their ancestry, of their parentage, or even family traditions of the past? Are these stories and traditions going to be lost to your children simply because you failed to put them on paper? It’s up to us to write these experiences down.
You can turn your family history into a variety of stories. Remember, conflict is part of our lives and makes for an interesting story. Don’t leave out what your ancestors suffered and for what cause. You want your children to be proud of who they are. We must share these stories with them.
First, collect your thoughts; write down any experiences that you remember. Talk to family members and discuss memories. Use letters they wrote to one another. Do research of that time period and find out what the country was going through, and insert it in the history of your ancestor. The turmoil of a country helps you to understand what your family went through and why they suffered. Did they live during the depression, and if so, how did it affect them? Sometimes what the country went through has to do with the circumstances of your ancestors. If they lived during war times, it helps your children understand why their grandparents had such tough times, why they barely made ends meet, or why they had to flee a certain country.
Find out everything you can about the area to both educate your readers and to make the setting feel real. If possible, go to the area you want to write about, walk around, find specific places of importance, where your ancestors lived, went to school, and played. If you can’t go there, then do research and find pictures of that area. Study books at the library or search the Internet.
Time Period is another important part of research. During the roaring twenties, bobbed hair was the rage. If your grandmother bobbed her hair and went to the dance marathons, write about it. If your ancestor loved reading books in the evening before retiring, it would be interesting to add what kind of light he used. Little details like this warms a story up and can bring your ancestor to life. Did he use electricity or an oil lantern? It sounds more interesting to say, “Grandfather sat in his overstuffed chair and read for hours with an oil lantern at his side.” Rather than just saying, “Grandfather read extensively before retiring.”
Emotion is the secret of holding a reader and part of our lives, so why ignore such an important element in a story? But remember: Show, don’t tell. If an ancestor had to defend her home from marauders, how did she feel? Was she frightened? If an outlaw challenged your great grandfather, what were his feelings deep down inside? Was he angry? If your grandfather was faced with a grizzly bear in the wild, how did he react? Did his face turn pale and his hands tremble? These are questions that you must research.
After writing down all you collected, then organize it into a story. You can make several short stories, making the history into segments. Or you can write the whole history as a continuous flow.
For those writing their own autobiography, don’t forget descriptions of love. You know what it feels like to be in love or to be loved, so describe it. Our hearts swell within, sending a warm feeling down our spine, and making us feel as if life was worth living. If we can adequately describe the feelings of love, then perhaps our children will understand our relationship with our spouse even better. Remember, emotions are part of life and can be an essential part of your story.
The importance of family legacy can never be over emphasized. Your children will be grateful once they’re grown. They’ll want to know their heritage, what their ancestors stood for, and what they believed in. Make your family legacy something your children will remember, something they will be proud of. For samples of what you can do, read the short stories of my ancestors at www.lindaweaverclarke.com.
Writing Your Family Legacy:
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