As grandparents, we’re proudly placed. We’re the keepers of family secrets and the guardians of our collective family memory. We’ve helped raise grandchildren. We remember our own grandparents, now long departed, who played their own little roles in the history of the world our grandkids live in today.
The stories we know, and the facts, are priceless. When we’re gone, if we haven’t told them to anyone, what happens to all that wisdom? The answer, if we’ve kept a grandparents journal, is that it stays safely recorded in word and photo, waiting for our grandchildren to discover it.
Genealogy is Just the Start
Finding out who your ancestors were can be fascinating. Imagine your grandchildren’s faces when they find out they’re dimly related to kings and queens; or to famous soldiers; or to families that have played their part in peacetime, creating communities and building up the spirit of the family, of which you are now the oldest part. But genealogy is only the beginning. The real joy of a grandparents journal comes when your grandchildren start uncovering your own past: when they realise that beautiful young woman in a wedding dress is grandma, or that dashing man in his best suit is really good old Gramps.
Linking your past to their present is a gift they’ll never forget. It’s a way of broadening their horizons, and their understanding of history and how and why it happens, that no teacher – no matter how good – will ever be able to replicate.
Grandparents Make the Best History Teachers
There’s something about the relationship between a grandma or grandpa and her or his grandchildren that brings history to life. That’s really important. We’re supposed to learn from the past – to take the good bits of it and improve the future with them.
History lessons at school either make thrilling reading for teenage boys (cowboys, Indians and soldiers), or bore whole classrooms full of boys and girls to tears (the Industrial Revolution, political history). What they don’t do is bring the past to life in a way that seems relevant to the grandkids learning about it. Your journal, to a grandson or granddaughter looking at your life, is something wonderful. It’s a way of making him, or her, realise that his or her family was alive back then as well: that your grandma and grandpa, and their grandparents too, actually lived through the stuff they’ve learned about in school.
Worth a Thousand Words
The ideal grandparents journal is stuffed full of pictures, poems, favourite songs, little notes about things the family said and did when you were young. Holiday snaps featuring you as a baby; your wedding photos; a picture of your grandfather in all his military finery. The more images you get in there, the more vividly it displays your life and the life of the family.
It’s a good idea to make your journal personal to the traditions and habits of your family. Not everyone follows the nuclear standard set out by Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver. Plus, a handmade journal is even more fascinating and appealing to the grandchildren who know you.