Thursday 7 March 2013

Sharing the Stories of our Family and Ancestors

One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't talk to my mother and father enough about their pasts. As a pagan, I like to think I honour my ancestors - yet my family photo album has pictures of my parents when they were younger with people I don't know and places I cannot identify.

A new study by a company that produces journals for recording family history information shows most of us spend little or no time talking to older relatives, including our parents, about their lives. This means that years of family stories could be lost to future generations.

Three quarters of those who responded to the survey admitted they spend little or no time talking to older relatives about their lives and the family stories of their parents.

More than half of us do not talk to our parents or grandparents about our family heritage, while close to 30 percent have never talked to their mother about their own lives. Even more have not chatted to their father about what they did when they were young.

Close to 40 percent of us don’t know how our parents met, 48 percent don’t know when they met and 86 percent don't know how their  or where their dad proposed to their mum, if they are married. More than 60 percent of us don’t know what our parents’ hobbies were when they were children, 40 percent don’t know where our grandmother or grandfather were born and almost a third don’t know our grandmother’s full name.

However, according to the survey it seems that most of us think it’s important to know about the stories from our relatives’ lives to capture this information before it is lost forever. We just don’t seem to be following this through. The results of the survey showed that the older one gets, the stronger these feelings become.

One way to learn more about your relatives before it is too late is to ask them to write down their stories in a journal. The ‘from you to me’ journals, pictured above, are designed to give as gifts to help families do this. The books contain inspiring questions and prompts - as well as space to write the answers - to help capture stories about the people close to you

Rhoda Breakell, head of Genes Reunited, commented on the ‘from you to me’ research results: "The amount of people who don't spend time listening to their parents and grandparents about their family heritage is surprising. We feel it's so important that people listen to the older generations within their families before their stories are lost forever."

As someone who has lost her own mother, I think this is a lovely idea. And with Mothering Sunday (often called Mother's Day) coming up, I think giving your own mum one of these journals as a gift would make an unusual but very appropriate present, especially for a pagan.

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