My Genealogy

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Future Genealogy: leaving a history to your children

No one can negate that genealogy is about family history, it's about the family. An extended family that transcends generations. It's about going back to meet the families which were instrumental in us becoming ourselves.

A major emotional aspect of genealogy is about being able to read, learn, think, about how our ancestors lived their own lives, their births, their marriages, their deaths... we can read hand-written records penned by people who lived, saw, talked to, our ancestors... how many a times did we feel like our ancestors were talking down to us across the generations? Or rather, how many times did we wish they could talk back and answer our questions? Instead, we try to search for hints and clues, newspaper reports, passport requests, memoirs, heirlooms, to try and find answers to our questions.

We cannot help facilitate this anymore than we can bring the dead back. But there's one thing we can do, make it easier for our future generations. Starting from your children. How many times did you wish to tell them a story, or explain a decision, or narrate an episode of your life? Think about old grandad telling stories to his grandchildren. But what if we will not be around when they are of age? What if we forget these episodes by the time we come to narrate them?

With these in mind, here's what I did about it: I made a couple of gmail accounts, one for each child of mine. Occasionally I write them an email, addressing them as adults, but talking about what is going on right now. Sometimes I include pictures, or attachments (such as the result of my son's first banging on the keyboard) to help the story. Now it will be my prerogative as to when to give them the password to the email account. I plan to give it to them on their 21st and 18th birthday respectively (there's a three year gap between them). Hoping that I'll still be alive by then. If not, I plan to leave hints as to the password, or leave it with a trustworthy relative.

I can send them an email from home while they are asleep, in breaks at work, from my mobile while travelling... anywhere.

I encourage you to take on this idea, and you too help your future generations know more about you.

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