As I walked up to the familiar door, I fumbled for an old key that I have had since my teenage years. It was stuffed away in my wallet, back in a neglected section where I kept old family photos, a note from Grandpa before he passed and jottings on my ever changing “bucket list.” The key hadn’t been used in so long that it left a deep impression in the smooth brown leather.
“Would it still work?” I wondered to myself while trying to juggle presents—a tray of cookies and other items. More importantly, I thought about what I would find on the other side of that portal. This was the house that I grew up in and that I had last seen many years ago. Oh, I had seen my family off and on for the past few years, but often it was when they visited me or we would meet up for a family vacation during which we made some great memories.
I also asked myself, “Am I really ready for this?” There should be no reason for trepidation; I’m coming home for the holidays, right? These are people I know—my cousins, aunts, uncles and even “friends of the family” who I called “aunt” and “uncle” since I was a child. When did the familiar become so unfamiliar? Is it just normal to drift apart as you get older and life gets busier? Or perhaps, I had finally realized that I was on the outside of where I really belonged: home.
Finding the key I performed another juggling act—trying to prevent a catastrophic avalanche of items that I was waiting to share with my family. I was ready, I had convinced myself. I had made a lot of plans, months ago, as part of this homecoming. I was ready to not just “catch up,” but since I’d recently become interested in my own family history, I had lots of questions. I wanted to look at old photo albums and get copies of those photos. What was more important was the “sharing” part—which is so often neglected while scanning photos and mementos. I wanted to hear the stories behind each item. I wanted to hear my parents bicker over where their first date took place, or learn from my aunts and uncles how certain foods became part of our holiday traditions. I wanted to take it all in, and not lose a precious bit, as if I could collect each bit like gold dust and seal it in a capsule.
And, just as I wondered what was on the other side of that door, it lurched away from me and opened with a rush. I heard a great din, which almost made me drop what was in my hands. A large crowd greeted and embraced me—a tangle of arms, hugs, kisses and cheers. I was finally home. I was finally on the other side, a place where everything was familiar once more.
Are you ready for the holidays, I mean, really ready?
Get the family photos out of shoe boxes or from the back of the closet…this is a perfect time for grandparents to get the next generation involved. Start your children or grandchildren on a lifelong journey by telling your story and introducing them to family history. Don’t forget you can easily add Aunt Betty’s recipes to the family cookbook! Students love these when they go off to college and they also make great wedding gifts. You will learn how to recognize and capture those great pieces from family!
Be sure to bring your Flip-Pal® mobile scanner with StoryScans™ software to those holiday gatherings. Record the voices and merge them with the scans to create images that speak. The StoryScans file is an industry-standard mp4 movie file, so you can share it over the internet (email, social media, sharing sites) without a separate player, and the voice never gets separated from the image. If you already own a Flip-Pal, upgrade it with the StoryScans capability. If you don’t already own one, we recommend the Sharing Stories Value Pack which includes the StoryScans activation and a carry case for a discounted price. In either case, consider adding the Go-Mic to record the voices with high fidelity that matches the high quality scans.
[Editors note: Written by Genealogy expert Thomas MacEntee]