It’s only three more days until one of our favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, is once again upon us. Celebrated annually for almost 400 years now, this is a time we come together with family and friends to give thanks for abundance and all we have to be grateful for. Some of us have traditions we’ve been doing for several generations, some are creating new traditions with our families, and some of us are a bit creative from year to year. The one thing we all have in common is that we share this time with others, often reminiscing about times gone by.
In a lot of families, relatives or friends are flying in for just a day or two and it seems like it’s only hours while they’re here. Sometimes the landscape of a family changes significantly from one year to the next. A friend of mine emailed me last night that her parents’ home, the home she grew up in, is on the market. She’s taking her children there for Thanksgiving and recognizes that there will be a lot of downsizing going on in the next few months while her parents prepare to move to a much smaller townhouse.
She is sure that a lot of family mementos will end up finding new homes and was looking for some ideas on how she might capture the memories associated with these items before they are gone.
I suggested she take a digital video recorder and record family conversations around a few of these items, (or more) if time allows. Pull that old rocking horse or Schwinn Western Flyer into the living room and film your family recalling memories of good times. Encourage younger children to ask questions of the elders. You will have a record not only of these rich memories but the interactions between multi-generation family members that your family will cherish forever.
When you set up the camera, do a couple of test runs to make sure the microphone is capable of picking up the audio in the room. You may need to plug in an external microphone if your room is large and people are seated further away from the camera. Try not to point a video camera at a relative and ask them to talk about their recollections. This often puts people on the spot and they may just mug for the camera or ask you to go somewhere else. Instead, find a meaningful activity the family can engage in around some pre-planned questions and discussion topics that will fire their memories. Keep the camera, on a tripod, running inconspicuously while you engage in the conversation as well. Once you’ve staged the scene and people are engaged inside of it, your camera should require little attention.
Later, after everyone’s gone back home, the turkey bones are in the freezer awaiting a good soup, and the kitchen is clean, you can have these videos edited professionally by a company like Legacy Multimedia, and put on DVD. Copies for everyone can be made and a new tradition of acknowledgment created in your family.
Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.