I’ve already written quite a bit about preserving memories, from videos to journals to photos. One more piece to the puzzle is the personal history. My husband felt inspired to write his “life story”, so to speak, just after we got married. I typed it up for him and did my own within that month. Both of us ended up with 15-20 pages, which I filed away in a binder.
Rather than keep separate histories, I decided to update our family’s history every year in December. It’s something that takes me a couple of hours, but it really helps me reflect on our year and how much we’ve grown. Our personal history is like a condensed version of a journal.
Remembering It All
Instead of trying to write from memory, I consult a few sources to help me in the process. I first look at all of our pictures from the year and make an outline of the months, taking notes for each one. I then skim my blog (not this one, but my personal one) for things not captured in the pictures. I make sure to include a small section at the end for updates on our parents and siblings. Once I have a good outline, I start writing. Each month usually gets 1-2 paragraphs.
It takes me about an hour to write my outline and another to type everything up. I’ll usually go back a day or two later to edit. (It’s easier to find errors on a different day.) I usually end up with about 2 pages typed. When I’m done, I print them and add them our binder. If anyone ever wants to read about my life, that will be what I hand them. Blog posts would fill many volumes, but my personal history will be the length of a typical book by the time I die, even if I live to be 100!
Adding to our personal history every year makes writing the Christmas cards really easy. All I have to do is further summarize the most important events of our year. I like this process, even though it can be tedious at first. It helps me look back and see all the good things that have happened in the year. I never remember them all until I’ve written them down. (I can’t wait to do it for this year. It will be a huge pick-me-up!)
I don’t know how many people will read my personal history in the future, but I know that it has helped me already. Just recently, I felt prompted to add another section to our story; the story of how James and I met. I’d never written this down before, at least not as a separate story. There were only scattered pieces of it in pictures, blog posts, and old-school written journal entries.
As I gathered my thoughts and started writing, I was astounded. It took many pages to write down all the details, but I saw God’s hand in my life every step of the way. I’d always assumed that I had messed things up and derailed my perfect life plan during high school, but that isn’t the case at all. God clearly knew what choices I’d make and helped me find my perfect-for-me eternal companion.
I can’t promise a life-changing realization like mine, but I still think writing a personal history is a great idea. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated.
To quote a popular Broadway play:
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?-Hamilton
The answer is YOU. You tell your story in the best way your see fit. Don’t wait for someone else to do it because they can’t get it exactly right.