One Easy Way to Preserve Family Memories | Teaching Self-Government

One Easy Way to Preserve Family Memories

Working alongside parents can create life-changing lessons and precious memories.

Lasting memories can easily be forgotten if they’re not recorded. Keeping a record of them will ensure that the precious parts of your family’s past don’t get forgotten. It doesn’t have to be hard to preserve lasting, meaningful memories— and it doesn't have to be so hard to make them either. 

Memories of Preserving Lead to Life-Changing Lessons

Every year when autumn rolls around, I find myself thinking back with fondness to some of my most precious memories with my parents. These special moments are etched in my mind forever as the way family life should be. These were some of the greatest learning moments of my life.

My mother was raised by parents who grew food and then preserved it to use for the rest of the year. Since mother was blessed with a green thumb, it made sense that she would carry on the tradition of self-reliance and teach it to her children too. As the oldest daughter, I think I had the most opportunities to work alongside mom and help her preserve our harvest.

We all weeded, planted and harvested in the yard, but I seemed to be the one she taught the most to about preserving the food. So, day after day in the fall I would put on an apron and stand alongside Mom in the kitchen or on the back porch. We shelled peas, paired pears, blanched tomatoes and peaches, pressed fruit through strainers for sauce and leathers, and created yummy sauces to dress up our dinners. 

While I worked with Mom, we talked about kitchen science a lot. As I think of it now, those conversations made science classes a breeze for me. I understood heat, cooling, chemical reactions of foods and liquids, as well as hydration versus dehydration and the affects of freezing, etc. Just like music helped me see patterns for math, canning and preserving with Mom taught me to see patterns for science. 

These self-reliance activities also taught me about my heritage, which is vital knowledge for finding and forming personal identity. Mom and I would talk about the work she used to do with her family growing up, stories from her past and about her grandparents, and we’d talk about when her family started farming and why.

These conversations helped me to start forming a vision for my life. I saw myself someday becoming a confident mother because I knew I could take raw ingredients and turn them into something that most people bought at the store. I became a confident young woman because of those moments next to Mom with my elbows deep in apricots, tomatoes and cherries.

The greatest of all memories and learning often happens one-on-one in a work setting. There is something about project-based learning that makes any lesson learned in the process a vital part of the person.

My father taught me to use a bow and arrow, and he taught me to hunt game. I learned about outdoor survival and how to respect nature and weapons. He also taught me how to do work with pride and neatness. Whether we were cutting cheese for dinner or polishing the car, Dad made sure we did our best.

What memories do you have from working with your parents that help you still today?

One Easy Way to Preserve Your Precious Family Memories

I’ve always loved making scrapbooks and photo albums, as well as reading historical accounts of family members. Journaling has also been an important part of my life, but the thing I’ve found to be the very best for preserving family memories is “mini-papers.”

Some of the greatest books on government or philosophy have been written one mini-paper at a time by the authors. Whenever I pondered preserving my family memories by writing a life story, I would get excited and overwhelmed at the same time. It’s a huge project to write a life story, but to write about pairing pears with Mom or going on a hike with Dad is just a short mini-paper. It might only be a few paragraphs.

I started writing mini-papers a few years ago and saving them up for the future life story that I will have accumulated. Then I thought, “What would happen if my children started accumulating mini-papers now? Wouldn’t they have a treasure to take with them through life? Wouldn’t they appreciate the great memories now? What would their gratitude for family be like if we made a family history of mini experiences?” It was an intriguing thought. 

So, I started asking my children to narrate their experiences. I would type it out for them and have them put in in their book. Of course, as they grow up, they can begin typing their own memories.

If you need a place to start, why not think of a simple word or phrase that sparks a memory, like: Christmas candles in the windows. For many of us, this phrase brings nostalgia to our hearts and helps us remember what it was like to drive into our driveway in the wintertime. For my son Porter, it will bring up a memory of trying to change a light bulb in one of them and melting a hole in the vinyl blinds. That's one memory that never ceases to make us laugh every year when we put the Christmas candles out again.

One easy way to preserve memories is to set aside a time each week, maybe on a Sunday afternoon, and type small family remembrances. As you take take 15 minutes each week and write about one experience that means something to you and your family, you'll create a family legacy of love and memories. What could a words like “bleach,” “sunflower” or “sandcastle” mean to your family?

Learn other ways to preserve your family’s history through having regularly recorded family meetings. Also, get FREE, helpful, printable forms in the Teaching Self-Government Implementation Course.