Have you ever thought about how much your children and grandchildren actually know about your life? It may be surprising to learn that many of us have very little knowledge about the lives of our grandparents and we know even less about our great grandparents. According to a survey conducted by Ancestry.com, one in three adults couldn’t name any of their great-grandparents. Why is this important? Because knowing more about who and where we came from can help us learn more about ourselves. Passing on stories and traditions to your children and grandchildren not only helps to preserve your legacy, it helps teach some valuable life lessons as well. And don’t worry if you think you’ve lived a less than exciting life. What may not seem like a big deal to you might have a lot of meaning to others. We all have interesting stories to tell, so tell them.
Even if you no longer do them, traditions give us all a sense of belonging. Think about some of the family traditions you had as a child, or even those you’ve heard about from long-lost relatives.
Maybe your grandfather ran away from home at 12 years old to join the circus. Or you’re your great uncle Bob was a minor league baseball player. Or Aunt Helen served in the Army Nurse Corps in WWII. Maybe your parents got engaged on the Empire State Building, or maybe they got engaged on the farm. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is being able to pass on the story.
Don’t forget about yourself. Nobody knows more about you than you do. You can also record a video.
Even the skills you think are not important might offer a fun learning and bonding experience for your grandchildren. You might be surprised by how much your grandchildren appreciate the gesture and the opportunity to spend extra time with you.
It might be fun to gather up all of your family recipes (the good ones!), make multiple copies and put them in a binder or book for your children or grandchildren.
Most of us have a collection of family photos. In fact, you may have several old photos that your parents and grandparents had collected.The problem most of us have with old family photos is that we don’t always know who is in the picture. Don’t let this happen to your grandchildren and great grandchildren. Make a note on the back of your photos (recent and not-so-recent) as to who everyone is.
DNA tests are relatively inexpensive and very easy to do. DNA tests can help identify the regions of the world where you family came from. You
might be surprised to find out that what you thought were your roots, aren’t really your roots at all.
Most of us have someone in the family who maintains the family tree, but if your family is lacking one, then by all means, start one.You can begin by listing information on everyone you know about and how they are all connected. Once you’ve done that, there are plenty of online resources available to help you get more information.
Take steps now to start preserving your legacy. And remember, If you’ve already registered for body donation to science, you will be leaving behind a lasting legacy that could help benefit all generations to come. If you haven’t already registered, we invite you to visit our medical research and education page to learn more about all the ways that donors are impacting medicine. If you would like to register, please go here.