Save Your Expiring Family Cultures

Underwater Mermaid: An Aging Relic of Time Gone By

It’s a time of year when families draw near and if yours goes beyond the grabbing, ripping, digesting of the season you might get a tale or two from your peers and elders. If not this is for you to work on that.

Is Your Family History Fading?

Here in America I feel we are so quick to move forward we never take a moment to look back. We may know the big picture but do we know the tapestry threads that binds it all together? You may know how your great grandparents made it to this country but what of the shared memory of their lives, and their parents lives, and that of their countries. To many of us it may already be too late to recover much of this.

Remember Storytelling

While we may have lost some of our oral tradition it’s never too late to start telling tales of what you do know and what your parents may have known. The point is to talk, to spin a tale, to encourage a connection to your lineage. Beyond giving the storyteller a moment to enjoy their own past they can hook a younger generation into the tale and give them something to think on as they mature.

Through the Senses

How many of us have family dishes that have been passed down over the years. We can divine a lot of culture from food. The missing ingredient a lot of the time is how the dish came to be. Whose great-great grandmother cooked this and the family so loved they kept it. Or what meager meal got a family through tough times and thus became a cornerstone of the families recipes throughout the years. Many times we are able to enjoy these meals without their connected meaning but how much richer would we be to know it and to pass that knowledge along.

Next time you’re at a family meal and there is something from the past on the table ask about it, inquire to it’s history and meaning to the family.

It’s All About Context

In my own eyes I have a not too distant connection to relatives that extend from America, to Puerto Rico, to Spain, but I know so little beyond the gestalt. Some of my families stories were written down but they stop only a few generations ago. The greater context of our family and our culture is a mystery to me.

If you have a family dish to an heirloom that is being passed on make sure you tell the context that goes with it. Who made it, how many hands has it passed through, do you know their stories? While you may know the context your children do not.

Dying Libraries

Over the last five years I have heard in many different forms how our elders are passing on but their knowledge is not. For every elder that passes we lose a library. Think of your own wealth of knowledge that is in your head and ponder how much you share of it. When you are gone  how much goes with you and how much will be here for others to share and pass along?

Take a moment and look for the precious moments that you don’t want to lose and begin putting pen to paper or telling stories at your next gathering. Think about the stories you were told growing up and do your children know them?

Our lives are very brief in the way the universe works and it’s a shame how much experience and hard earned wisdom is lost from generation to generation. It’s one reason I started blogging so many years ago. I wanted to make a record of moments, of a person, of a family, that can be shared and looked through to understand who I was and what I was a part of.

I write this because I lost both of my grandparents in 2008 and when I reflect upon their photo albums, letters, and memorabilia I realize I only knew a fraction of what I would have loved to know.  Now it is lost within fragments of my parents and extended family but the easiest connection to it is gone forever.

New Holiday Meaning

So this holiday season, this new year, take it upon yourself to rekindle your families stories and culture. Let it be alive once again and writ or told to others so that it maybe kept alive and fresh. Revel in who you all are, where you came from, and the connection from here to there.