Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Memories – "don't rely on your memory . . . it's a net full of holes, many prizes slip through it"

One of my jobs in our family is record keeper.  I ran uncontested.  Record keeping is an intimidating job.  Daunting really.  (But then, so is raising a child.  Record keeping is also like cleaning the bathrooms, but just because no one wants to do it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be done.)    

I know keeping family records are important.  I know it.  Through the ages written histories seem to be the difference between thriving societies and struggling ones.  A written record keeps important values and experiences in front of the people which impact their outcomes.  So, if record keeping can define a civilization then it stands to reason it can have a powerful influence on all levels of society where it is practiced—including the basic unit . . . my family.  But, just because I know it is important doesn’t mean it hasn’t been overwhelming.  One day I read, “You only have to preserve the memories you want to keep.”  And then I got it.  It doesn't have to be overwhelming.  But, 

1.  if I want our family to remember something, I’m going to have to find a way to preserve that memory so that they can remember it


2.  not every thing is worth recording

Ever since I read that phrase, record keeping has been much less overwhelming to me.  Yea, even enjoyable.  All those year-after-year-replica pictures taken of birthdays, dance poses, holidays, sports line-ups, etc. don’t have to find a space unless they’re memories we want to remember.  No sir.  Not every picture needs a page, or even needs to be developed. 

But for those memories we do want to keep, I took an idea from Stacy Julian and adapted it for our family.  We have four family albums and each album has a theme:

  1. Traditions
  2. Triumphs, challenges, and mistakes
  3. Blessings
  4. (still working on this book’s theme.  Right now it’s miscellaneous, but a title will come . . . I assure you, a title will come)
 Whenever we make a memory that’s important to remember, or someone says “Remember when . . .,” or there’s a great picture that catches who we are, it’s easy to make a page and put it in one of the books.  (I chose to go with three-ring albums so adding is easy.)  There’s no need to put the pages in the albums sequentially, alphabetically, or even by family member, because it’s a family memory we’re trying to preserve and it goes in a family book of memories.  Another great thing about this record keeping system is the kids are writing a lot of the memories.  I ask them questions, they send responses, and I put them in the book.  And that makes me the record keeper.    

To give you an idea of what some of our topics are, here are a few of the page titles:

Why I Hate Kool-Aid
Pogs and Principles
Cow Tails
Family Night
Clay Pigeons
If Only We Had the Same Brain
Grandpa Payne
I Just Need to Cry

I’m really sold on this record keeping system for our family.  All you have to do is think of what type of memories you want to keep, get a book, and save the memories.  You move forward from today.  You don't worry about all the years you didn't keep a record, you just start with today and add memories as you think of them or make them.

One other record keeping project I’m doing this year is a spin off the Twelve for Twelve.  Because this is 2011, on the 11th of each month we’ll take 11 pictures.  I’ll ask everyone in the family to take a picture or two and e-mail them to me along with a caption of what they are doing.  I’ll organize the photos into a collage (of course!  I’m still on the collage kick) and by the end of the year we’ll have an overview of what a regular day in our regular lives looks like on a regular basis.  That’s it.  Oh, I might add a doo-dad or two, but it will be one fun, simple documentation.  (And if it’s not as grand as I envision, well . . . we won’t do a 12 for 12 in 2012.  But for now Eleven for Eleven it is.)

Record keeping . . . 

If you would not be forgotten,
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
Or do things worth the writing.
                                                                                                 – Ben Franklin

I want to make sure my family remembers the important things in life . . . like each other and what we believe in . . . therefore I keep the record.


deidra said...

Good thing I'm better at keeping a record than I am at cleaning the bathroom! Which, for the record, won't be something I'll record! ;-)

I'd love to know the story behind Pogs and Principles. Maybe it would be a good object lesson to go along with the Pogs I can't seem to part with.

Jill said...

I used to be an avid scrapbooker until I discovered blogging. I still love our scrapbooks, but find that blogging daily captures our family history much more thoroughly than they way I used to do things.

Your topics all sound interesting and I think it's cool that you involve everyone. Your year of 11th collages will be wonderful!

Cali said...

I love memories with you Mom, great blog.

Becky said...

I, of course, love this topic! I grew up in a family where traditional family history work is a BIG deal (poring over census records, microfiche, family history library,etc.)...and while I know how important it is, I never felt spiritually excited about family history work until I realized that I can link generations by being a record keeper for THIS generation. Now I have a testimony of it and I love that the Lord has so many ways for us to do His work. Record-keeping and temple attendance fit me well. :)

This year I'm doing another "Year Album" (I'll be posting about it) because I fell off my record-keeping bandwagon last year.

Didn't mean to write a novel but I loved this post, Jane--thanks!

Deanna/Mimi said...

Great idea Jane. How about the title "Being Human" for your 4th notebook. I used to keep a journal until "life" got complicated and too many trials. Now I wish I would have looked at even the simple things and found the joy in them and recorded those "small things". Keep up your good works. You are an example to all. Hugs!!

michelle said...

I love this. I used to love scrapbooking, but did find it overwhelming and gradually it fell by the wayside. Maybe I should look at it in more of a memory keeping way. I like your system! And heaven knows my memory isn't worth much without documentation.

"I ran uncontested." Seriously great line. No one's fighting me for the privilege here either!

Ryan and Haley Krumblis said...

Aunt Jane- Just what I needed! Grace told me she has been scrapbooking, so I figured I better get on it. I'm overwhelmed again! I think you need another retreat. So if you'd just put one together really quick and soon, that would be fine by me........:)

Anonymous said...

What a great concept to record and memory keeping. I really enjoyed this lateral approach. And I love the 11 pics on the 11th. It sounds like you've got your family fully involved too. Good work!