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For my parents’ 50th Anniversary, each member of the family wrote a short reflection on a family memory. We gathered all the memories together in a scrapbook which we presented to our parents at a Golden Anniversary Celebration with loved ones gathered from near and far. The stories ranged from delightfully sentimental to downright hilarious. It really was not until years later that we realized what a wonderful collection of family memories we had created. 

Milestone life events often lead to family gatherings which lead to family stories. Stories about weddings, birthdays, holidays, vacations…to name a few. Yet sometimes, it’s the stories of everyday family life that become the most memorable. November is Family Stories Month. Why not take time this month to compile your family stories into a keepsake for posterity? As time passes and the family changes, the collection of memories will be cherished for years to come. 

If someone in the family has the creative gene and likes to journal and create scrapbooks, you are in luck! But a decorative box filled with stories and placed on a shelf in the living room can also nicely preserve those memories. Or a digital or electronic journal or scrapbook has the added benefit of easily sharing a copy with everyone in the family. If your family is the minimalist type, a simple list of descriptive phrases might suffice to commence spontaneous ruminations of your uncle’s antics in wizardry, or the time the adults hosted their own wine-tasting or guitar sing-a-longs around the campfire.

The scrapbook for my parents’ anniversary came together as each family member sent their story to one person who spent hours upon hours creating a family heirloom. There really was no plan other than collecting the memories and displaying them together. And it turned out great! If that sounds like it’s your speed, then go for it! Simply reach out to family members and ask them to write a family story to be collected with the others. If you would like to be more intentional, CCPL’s Catalog has a number of resources that can help, including those listed below.

For All Time:  A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History by Charley Kempthorne

For All Time is a practical and accessible guide to documenting your family’s history, whether you want to write a little or a lot. Author Charley Kempthorne shows how easy it is and how much fun it can be. A family history can take many forms – a short essay or narrative introducing a collection of family letters, long captions in a family photo album, a biography of your parents and their life together, an autobiography, even a family newsletter. Kempthorne discusses.

Scrapbook Storytelling:  Save Family Stories and Memories with Photos, Journaling and Your Own Creativity by Joanna Campbell Slan

A guide to scrapbooking and journaling collects tips and techniques for preserving memories, photographs, and family stories.

Through the Eyes of Your Ancestors by Maureen Taylor

Discusses genealogy, the study of one’s family, examining how such an interest develops, how to get started, how to use family stories and keepsakes, where to get help, and the positive effects of such study.

The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Scrapbooking by Alison Lindsay 

A wealth of inspiring ideas with more than 65 step-by-step projects and over 400 photographs.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Scrapbooking by Wendy Smedley 

Explains how to assemble photographs and clippings into a homemade scrapbook and offers ideas for borders and themes.

Wherever You Go There They Are by Annabelle Gurwitch

When Annabelle Gurwitch was a child, surrounded by a cast of epically dysfunctional relatives, she secretly prayed that it was all a terrible mistake. Maybe she was a long lost daughter of Joni Mitchell or the reincarnation of an Egyptian princess. A family of bootleggers, gamblers, and philanderers, the Gurwitches have always been a bit vague on the standard ideal of a loving and supportive family. Their definition includes people you can count on to borrow money from, hold a grudge against, or blackmail. One day, unfortunately, Gurwitch woke up to realize that she’d made similar, if not the same, mistakes as everyone else before her–just in a new zip code. Wherever she went, there they were.