Monday 21 December 2009

Don't Forget to Document Your OWN History

Why not provide a personal history lesson for your family? Think of how thrilled you are when you come across an old letter or postcard from a now deceased relative. Why not provide that same feeling for your descendants? When does your memory and awareness of certain events (ie. JFK’s murder, the first man on the moon, the Watergate Scandal, Lady Di's death, 9/11 etc., hurricane Katrina, Obama being elected) kick in? Where were you when you learned the news? How did you respond? Do those events trigger memories of what life was like then? What society was like? What values and principles were important then? Think of the inventions you’ve seen in your life time. Remember when YOU were the remote for the tv? How you used a wringer washer? Life before microwaves, electric can-openers,? Home milk or bread deliveries? Think of a time before space shuttles. When trains or boats were the main form of vacation transportation. Be not afraid! Document your own history. It will make fascinating reading to those who wish that they could reach back 100 years and touch you, share a coffee and chat with you. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. It is YOUR story that they are interested in, not an English class.

Sunday 20 December 2009

What Does it Mean to be Connected?

I recently had the honour of putting a family history book together for a friend. Her uncle was turning 80 and this was to be a special gift for him. His sister is edging towards 80 herself and as an aging grandma, was eager to get her memories into a format that would preserve them for her grandchildren and generations yet to come. Their father was a soldier in both world wars. An amazing story in and of itself. He was wounded in WW1 so was not able to go back into the field in WW2. Instead, he was a trainer of soldiers who were about to be shipped out. The big blessing for his daughter was that his memory and his story would not be forgotten when she and her brother died. They could now enjoy the rest of their sunset years knowing that the Kyle legacy would be preserved.
From the family book and from amassing hundreds of pictures, I made family calendars for Barb and for her brother. That was a year ago. This year, I was asked to make 5 for the Kyle family. There was lots of secrecy as the calendars were requested and put together. Recently, they were all opened during a family gathering. The comment I received from my friend really hit home for me. She said, "you know Captain you have given the Kyle's the greatest gift and that is a sense of family as it was certainly fractured prior and maybe always will be but at least there is a "knowing" now that didn't exist before.....that is a gift even to me."
I realized in that moment that this is what the Crawford family book, and even more so, the Crawford Connections newsletters have done for us. They have given each and every one of us a sense of belonging. Like it or not. And certainly we each have twigs on the tree that we wish we could prune. Regardless of that, we are connected. Forever. By blood, by relationship, by being connected. Whether we were born a Crawford, married a Crawford, were adopted by a Crawford or were raised by a Crawford, we are all part of the same cloth. A cloth that is unique in design. Our ancestors were warm and welcoming. Others were welcomed into the clan for a number of reasons: close friendships, far fetched kin, neighbours, folk who just needed a place to be. By nature, then, the cloth for our clan of Crawfords is an open weave. Anyone "claimed" by a Crawford IS a Crawford. And they all get their branch on our tree.
Others are jealous of our connection. Not that they are necessarily envious of the relationships or even of the individuals, but of the deep and abiding sense of belonging.