How to Preserve Family Traditions, Recipes and History
We all hate to think about the fact that our aging family members may pass away some day. Unfortunately, if there’s one true fact about life, it’s that no one lives forever. I know I’ve talked about it before, but I’m so sad that I didn’t learn some of the family recipes each of my grandmothers had before they passed away.
Both of my parents were the youngest of six children, so I lost my grandparents fairly young, way before I realized the value of the history they could share. There are foods that I haven’t had in 20 years. It makes me sad that my kids won’t be able to try them. I’ve done some online hunting, but when I’ve tried the recipes, they just don’t taste the same.
All that is to say, that we should all take advantage of our time with our loved ones while we have them to document family history and recipes. My aunt was in town this weekend and I made a point of asking her to show me how to make a recipe that I love but haven’t had since I last visited her, 7 years ago, and before that, when my grandmother made it more than 20 years ago.
So how can you preserve your family history, without making it feel morbid?
- Video History: If you have video capabilities on your phone or a video camera, do family interviews with different older members of the family. The best part about doing a video history is that you’ll always be able to hear the sound of their voice. My cousin’s kids did this with their grandfather and they treasure it now that he is gone.
- Written Family History: If your family member isn’t comfortable being on video, you can always create a special scrap book with your family history. You can include information about your family tree as far back as they can remember, as well as specifics to your family member. Some other information to include could be family traditions and why they came about or information about your ethnic/cultural heritage.
- Family Recipes: Are there specific foods your family eats that come from your ethnic background? Or are there recipes that come from your region that are popular in your family. The funny thing about recipes is that even though there is usually a set amount of ingredients and measurements, different people alter them to taste unique for their family, so hunting for a recipe online may not be the same.
- Family Photos: My parents are both immigrants from third world countries. They are also the youngest siblings in their families, so the very few photos that exist from their childhood were already spoken for by older siblings. A gift to all family members would be for a tech savvy family member to gather up all of the existing family photos and scan them into a computer. Once they’re all scanned, you can make a photo book through a site like Shutterfly.com to give to each family member.
Don’t wait to preserve your family history. We never know how much time is given to us, so we need to make the most of the time we have.