A woman records nine hours of her oral history. Born in the late 1930’s, she wants her 10 year old granddaughter to know what life was like in a world without cellphones and the internet, a world where girls couldn’t wear pants to school, and where school segregation was an accepted fact.
What she has done for her grandchild fits my definition of “ancestoring”™ ( you won’t find it in any dictionary and grammar purists will want to ban me from the internet): the active reflection, recording, and preserving of your life experiences, including your memories of the generations who preceded you.
As we approach a Thanksgiving unlike any other in living memory, facing the prospect of masked and distanced small gatherings, or virtual Zooming meals, we’d like to take some time to suggest a few ways that you can do effective “ancestoring”™.
HINT #1: Start with 2020. Take 20 minutes or an hour or a day to sit quietly and muse about what has changed for you and those you care about during the past 11 months. You can record into your phone, write longhand, put it in your computer, or go through your photographs and let them tell the story. A few prompts:
- What plans/dreams did you have for yourself this year? How many have materialized? How many have you had to jettison or amend?
- Has COVID-19 affected your family directly or indirectly? How?
- This is the first pandemic we have lived through for 100 years. Have you looked back at the history of the 1918 pandemic to find similarities and differences in the way we are behaving as a country ( and in the world)?
- How will this Thanksgiving compare to the Thanksgiving of 2019 for you?
- Have you changed this year? How?
- What would you like the younger generation to know about your thoughts and feelings during this crisis? This may be something you put away to reflect upon over time.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be suggesting more ways for you todo “ancestoring.”™
*There is a vital conversation taking place concurrently about Becoming a Good Ancestor around acting responsibly to preserve the planet for future generations. To read more about this, go to the following link: https://www.romankrznaric.com/good-ancestor