How to Start Writing Your Own Childhood Memories for Posterity
Are You Recording Your History?
How much do you know about your great-grandmother and great-grandfather? Do you look like them? What about your eyes? Have you inherited the shape and color from one of them? Have you collected stories about their childhood?
Writing your childhood memories is part of your family history, building bridges and binding families together. Whether our memories are filled with joy or with sadness, these little stories become treasures to children, grandchildren and extended family. Future generations will be captivated as they are introduced to their grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and other family members.
Writing about your childhood can also be therapeutic. It's completely free, helps to relieve depression and improve our psychological health. Sometimes we don't really know our thoughts until we write about them.
Recording your own personal history is also a great addition to genealogy. I recently just learned that my grandmother, on my mother's side, was given away at about age one or two. She spent the next 15 years in an orphanage working from sun up to sundown. She dreamed of someday getting married to a kind gentleman and having her own home.
One day she came upon a "Wanted: Nice Lady To Marry." She answered the ad and was immediately married to my tall, dark and handsome grandfather. I'm grateful to my cousin for keeping records of my grandmother's life experiences. Your family will one day feel the same way.
Ideas to Help You Get Started Writing
One way that inspires me to begin writing my childhood stories is by looking at old photos of my family. The minute I see a particular photo, a picture of the experience that promoted the taking of that photo will play in my mind. That is the time I begin to write down every detail that I can remember.
Then something wonderful happens. The more I write, the more I remember. Before long I am recording a piece of my life history. You may find some of the following ideas helpful in starting to write your childhood memories:
- Remember the school days. Did you have a favorite teacher? What made her special?
- Who was your very best friend?
- How did you get to school?
- What fun and outrageous activities did your family do?
- Write about your first prom or graduation.
- Write about your favorite grandma/grandpa.
- What special trips did you take?
- Write about your best Christmas.
- Who was your first love or who gave you the first kiss?
- Describe the home you grew up in. If you lived in different places explain why you moved.
- What was your favorite game growing up?
- What was your favorite movie?
- Who taught you how to cook or bake your favorite cookies?
You get the idea. Once you start, you will find it hard to stop writing your life stories.
Vintage Photos Bring Stories to Life
2 Helpful Tips for Recording Your Personal History
- Write as many details as you can remember. Make your story as truthful and honest as possible without adding embellishments.
- Provide background, but keep it brief. Don't go on and on and on. You don't want to lose your reader. As you write, leave an element of mystery now and then. This will entice the reader to stay with you.
Here is an example of one of my own childhood memories recorded as poetry. The introduction to my poem adds additional, interesting information. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it will help to get you started.
My sense of the family history is somewhat sketchy, because my mother kept a great deal to herself.
Introduction: The Little House That Daddy Built
Times were tough, not only for our family but for most of the country. Jobs were hard to come by and at times so was food. I still can't imagine how our parents managed to clothe and feed three children (and for a period of time, six children), with very little money. Mama was magical with what she had to work with in terms of food. She could take a can-of-this and a little-of-that and make a meal that smelled like heaven and was downright delicious.
Daddy looked everywhere for work. We had no car and no bicycle for transportation. Daddy found an old worn-out pair of roller skates (the kind that attached to the shoe) and would skate for miles, hoping to find a job. Any kind of job. He would be gone from sun-up to sun-down day after day.
Finally, daddy found a job with a lumber company. Things were looking up. And to make things even better, our parents found a small piece of property, and daddy was going to build us a house. The question now was, where were the materials coming from and how could daddy build a house when he had no experience?
Well, he had always had a gift for building things and if there's a will . . . there's a way. Nothing would stop this man once his mind was made up. And as far as the lumber was concerned, that problem was taken care of too. His boss at the lumber yard said he could have all the scraps and pieces of lumber that he wanted. And every day, he would sift through the scrap pile gathering up what he needed.
The little house was about to take form. It would have a living room, kitchen, and one bedroom. The bathroom would have to wait. Meanwhile, a bare path leading from the house to the "out-house" would have to do.
The Little House That Daddy Built
The Little House That Daddy Built
When I was 6 years old
Heated by our kitchen stove
When winter left us cold…
My brother and my sister
Both shared a bed with me
We only had one bedroom
Hardly room enough for three…
The little house was drafty
The cold air seeping in
Our little eyes were stuck like glue
Before the day began…
But with a nice warm washcloth
To place upon our eyes
Our lashes clean so we could see
another sun arise
The one and only bathroom
To be shared by one and all
“Please hurry up and let me in “
And banging on the wall’
The living room was kind of small
But it seemed big back then
Plenty of room to play some cards
Which we did, again and again
We had an old piano
Much to my delight
And it became a part of me
I played it day and night
It fed my soul it dried my tears
And filled an inner need
Like sunshine to a flower
And water to a seed
But soon the piano was replaced
with a new tv
I was broken-hearted
They took my friend from me
The little house that daddy built
Spin memories galore
Some I treasure more than life
And some, I just ignore
My life was formed within those walls
Just like a patchwork quilt
It made me what I am today
The house my daddy built
In the 1940's - Lynwood was known as "The American City."
Have You Recorded Your Childhood Memories?
Take a Laugh Break (Very Funny Video)
Remember who you are, where you're from, and what you represent.
You are the best person to write your memories. After all, you were there. You are the only person who can preserve your life through writing. You will be helping your children, grandchildren and other family members to see your own parents, grandparents and other family members. Be sure to share your stories and information. No matter what you write, it will be a compelling read for your family. Because you have recorded it, your family story will live on.
Our ancestors are not gone from our lives. When we tell their stories we bring them forward and breathe life into the developing form of future generations. We must know our history.
For you with young families, make it a priority to keep a daily journal. Jot down cute experiences about your children, their growth, humorous activities, their friends and school days. Write about birthday parties, Christmas, Easter, and all family celebrations.
My grandchildren, now young adults, have taken a sudden interest in their heritage. They hunger for stories and photos about grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts as well as information about their parents. You are creating a path into the past for generations to come. Only you can do this.
We are all tied to a lineage of love that has existed since the beginning of time.
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Audrey Hunt