April 10, 2009

where is our family paper trail?


Do you remember as a small child getting out thew family photos and your mum, dad or grandparent explaining who was who?
Telling you things about the member of the family, what they did as youngsters or adults. where they lived. All the trivia of family life.
Do you remember tales of so and so's trip to?(insert your own place here)
Then they got the photos out once more to remind you who they were talking about and what they looked like.
What can we show our children or grandchildren in years to come? Pictures on a computer screen?
That is fine for now but formats change and media changes. Will you or your children remember to upload all your pictures and change them to a new format?
Yes technology is wonderful, it must be because everyone says so.
But, and there is always a but, children need to know their roots and be shown them. Pictures of where they came from and the family history. The stories for good or bad.
G%%gling won't give them that.
When a grandparent or uncle/aunt says that you look like --- we want to see that person. To see why they think we look like them.
People's search for the family tree is part of that I know.Not for who we have famous in our background but for who we have full stop.
I have no interest in following my tree back. I know that I had lousy parents, wonderful grandmothers and a gentle grand dad. T'other was a chauvinist pig but there you go. 3 out of 4 is pretty good. I know about my family back a ways from there and that is enough for me. I don't say it is for everyone.
1 gran comforted me through childhood years of hospital stays , operations and subsequent nightmares.
The other taught me the old ways of doing things and seeing things.
Spells and magic if you like, but with countrywoman practicality.
No special tools purchased for much money in witchy shops/no special invocations from books. Using what you had in the kitchen and saying what came from the heart. No days of agonising over the right words to say as per the latest must have witchy book. No nasty spells of binding or for gain, but things to help you get by.
She also taught me to knit and crochet. Part of the same magic I believe.
Nan also taught me that even at 74 she could have a great time and enjoy each day for what it was. She survived cancer twice and poverty, an early widowhood but she laughed every day. She sang naughty songs when she had a little tipple and even when she didn't. She danced . She was alive.
The old ways worked for her and they do for me.
I know also that her sister chased her husband with an axe. Did she kill him? I don't know but it is a little piece more of the puzzle that made me.
One great aunt was put in a mental institution, she wasn't mad but had epilepsy and in those days it was enough.
My great gran on my mum's side was an autocratic b$tch. She used to hit me(hard) for writing with my left hand. You didn't do that as it was the devils hand. I was 3 to 5 years old.
She led a merry life though and was married four or 5 times. A lot for the 1900-1960 period until she died. We didn't know about her many marriages until her death when papers were found confirming it. Wonder if that is why it took 3 goes to find the right one for me?
The other great gran left her book when she died. It contained recipes, charms, hand writing practice and much more. Sadly husband #2 kept that and much more of my personal memorabilia when I left him.
Maybe that is why I want this paper trail? After all where would I find this on line?
Let us have a balance. Embrace technology but also let us keep the traces of that past that matter.
On paper.

What are your tales? Do your children and grandchildren know them? Have they seen the photographs? Have you scanned in your photos to keep on disk or do you still keep the paper as well?

5 comments:

Priestess~Harper said...

I have collected a fair few photos and stories from my large Yorkshire end of the family. The East Anglian side I can trace back to 1402 but sadly very few stories to go with the details. Some times I wish I had some one to pass them on to, but children were never going to happen . . .

I wonder who else might be interested in family tales and scandles . . . . ? *wink*

Erica said...

what a beautiful post, thank you for sharing!

Mandella said...

Very thought-provoking amber. Perhaps future generations won't be as obsessed with the past as we are. I wonder how generations long gone, before the invention of photography grappled with the same problems?

As for me, I sometimes feel it doesn't really matter what I leave for the future, as having no children, who is going to wonder about me? It's the same sort of thinking that makes me tell my nearest and dearest that I would like a woodland burial

Roobeedoo said...

You are absolutely right. I have devoted a lot of time and energy to my family tree back to the 1800's, but I still get caught off guard when my mum talks about aunty-so-and-so on the phone. Aunty who? I really must visit her soon and sit down with the old photos and find out who all those people all are! And get some of the current digital images printed out for my own kids to find in a box one day! P.S. Hope your health is improving!

Blue Witch said...

Yes, exactly. One of my favourite subjects this. We have so many pictures now, the danger is few will survive.

I still print my photos out and file them meticulously in albums. Don't know why... I have no-one to leave them to. Just an idea that complete volumes of social history may be in short supply in the future.

I also feel sad that the kids of today won't have written letters from their first love(s) to keep and look back on in years to come. Wooing someone over Twitter or Facebook or by text message is not my idea of 'romance'. But it's about as temporary as many relationships these days, it seems to me.