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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Preparation Sunday - Step 1 of 7

Step 1 - Ask

The upcoming holidays are especially good times to gather ANCESTOR STORIES. Over the next seven Sundays, I will share with you my approach to preparing your ancestor stories to share with others. Before you can share, of course, you must have them and have them in a form to be useful to share and tell.

If you are on Facebook, the 7 Steps of Preparation to TELL YOUR ANCESTOR STORIES are already available by joining the Cause: TELL YOUR ANCESTOR STORIES. I encourage you to join.The 7 Steps are, very briefly: Ask, Listen, Record, Organize, Research, Write, Share.

You will want to use Ask, Listen and Record all together over the holidays as family members get together at different times for different celebrations and events. You need to think about those circumstances as you plan to gather useful story information. After a holiday meal is a good time to Ask about "the olden times," when older family members were young. How did they celebrate - like we do, or different? Do you remember a special holiday? a special tradition? Who participated? How and Why?

Then it is important to Listen. Listen carefully. Generally, don't interrupt. Let them talk... let their memories come to the forefront and be shared, just as they remember them.

Record. Have a note pad and pen or pencil. Have a digital recorder that can just run, unobtrusively... they will forget it was even there. If all else fails, REMEMBER, and go write it down, or enter it into your computer, later, as best you can.

I think you get the idea... OK? Just do it!

While Listen may be the most important, you must also Ask, in most cases, either to get the conversation going something like you would like, or, to ask a follow up question when there is a break.

You may be thinking of after Christmas dinner with the family, but these "information gathering" situations may carry over into when watching football bowl games, for instance, or the women are talking recipes. When Grandpa Joe, the Packer fan, and Uncle Sid, the Bears fan, start going at each other... it is a good time to ask them why, when and where they each became such rabid fans of their respective teams, for example. When Aunt Minnie talks about her fruitcake, be sure to ask for the recipe, ask where she got it, when she first made it, what was the occasion, does she have special memories of a particular holiday it was served, etc.

Have your own set of questions to ask, if the conversation drifts, such as:
1. What was your most prized possession as a child? At what age? Where did you live then?
2. Tell about the best gift (birthday, Christmas, other) you ever received. What? Why? Where? When?
3. Did you ever find something your Mom or Dad had hidden? Did they every find something you had hidden?
4. Share a memory about a church social activity when you were a child.
5. When you were child, how did you keep your house warm? Did you have running water? electricity? television? Internet? ... you get the idea! ;-)
6. Tell about a time you dressed up in a costume? were in a play? Didn't have the proper clothes to wear for some occasion?

You can come up with your own, and much better, questions... but do have them available ahead of time. Tuck them in the back of your notepad, perhaps.

Next Sunday, we will talk more about Listen.

Families are Forever! ;-)

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