Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gifts that Keep on Giving

I recently came across a great book which I immediately snapped up for both mother and mother-in-law. Whether they'll want to do it or not I don't know, but it still literally makes "the gift that keeps on giving". It's called "The Oral History Workshop" by Cynthia Hart with Lisa Samson. You can see more of it here, but it basically helps anyone who wants to record their family history, with interview tips, and writing prompts. Examples of the writing prompts include food experiences, wedding memories, secrets, and challenges. Get the picture? Most people find it daunting to even think about writing their memoirs, and this book gives a gently shove in the right direction. And talk about a different kind of gift.

And just the other day I read a fab post at "Are we Nearly There Yet Mummy?" and lo, another great idea. Laura has her dad writing the post, about an incident with her children which then reminded him of an incident with her. I highly recommend a read as it's well written, poignant and funny. Throughout the post he wonders if she remembers the events, and that got me to thinking "What a great idea for a book/family memory book."

Identify specific events in your childhood and ask your sibs, parents, cousins, friends for their recollections of the same event. It could even be quite funny as many of us have completely different memories of the same event. I was scarred for life a few years ago when my mother revealed that she could only "vaguely remember" the time I fell down a manhole, and she was laughing so much she couldn't even help me out. In fact, it was one of my earlier blog posts.

Anyway - What you do with the results is limitless. I just thought, what a great idea. A bound book with photographs perhaps?



  1. Oh god, having everyone remember the same event sounds like a wonderful opportunity for a family brawl...

  2. Wow, yes, and I recorded my Mom when she didn't know I was doing it, telling about all the things that they had to do as children and young adults and believe me, a lot of work was involved in their lives! I was astounded...and thrilled that I can now hear my mothers voice at the flip of a switch.

  3. Brilliant idea and I know there is a book site where you can get it all published http://www.blurb.com/!

  4. Your book ideas sounds wonderful, and I'm wondering if I get my cranky grandma interested in the oral history project book. I'm going to look into it.

    I recently read a memoir called The Kids Are All Right by Liz and Diana Welch. The story is told by four siblings, and it is true that they all remember events differently and talk about how surprised they were by that when they started sharing these memories.

  5. Somehwere I have a (blank, of course) book of similar prompts with spaces for photos and documents that was published this side of the pond a few years ago. I decided I'd already covered most of the things in it in a different format so didn't bother with it but for someone not normally into writing they are a great idea.
    (If I ever come across it I'll send you the author/title.)

  6. I would love to do this sort of thing, have thought about different versions of this for years but getting organised to do it is a different matter. However, youve brought it to the forefront of my brain again so I may just get something sorted sometime.

    Your mum's reaction to your manhole story made me laugh--Ive had similar experiences recently with totally different memories of all concerned.

  7. It would be hilarious - we all have different memories of the 'truth"....problem is my parents remember very little about any of it. LX

  8. what a great idea, however I agree with Family Affairs, about what is truth and what is fiction.

    I meant to come over the other day to tell you to check out "the blast from the past" on my blog.......I was humming the tune all day, so don't say I didn't warn up, I think it was on Wednesday's post.

    Gill in Canada

  9. As I follow your blog and see that you have links to others, I thought you may be interested in following up on ruralrambles.co.uk which seems to have attracted quite a following in a relatively short time.
    It’s described as the ‘scurrilous thoughts of an ageing rebel somewhere in the bleeding heart of Middle England’ and I found it very funny. According to the archive page, the author, who calls himself Aubrey Fitzrovia, is putting together a list of his favourite blogs and perhaps if you drop him an email he will add your site to his list. Keep up the good work!

  10. A great idea for a personal gift is if you write a children's book and scan in the kids illustrations with it and then you can easily upload to blurb.com and just print out a few copies for relatives. I just tried it and the book came out great.

  11. Thanks everyone for the suggestions and info. I think I will have to do something next year with my family. it will probably necessitate an intervention from Amnesty International since we all insist we're right all the time. Tee hee.


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