Beyond Vacation Memory Books and Family History Books
Want to write about your important memories?
Need to record the life of someone special?
Wonder what should be included in a memorial book?
What if your memories could live on long after you’re gone? When we approach the end of our lives, most people have one worry: Will I be forgotten? Fortunately, with a combination of technology and modern resources and creativity, it has become much easier to preserve the legacies of our loved ones for future generations to appreciate. Let’s look at ways of creating a memory book that will last.
First, What Is a Memory Book?
Instead of a memoir, why not write a memory book? Merriam-Webster defines a memory book as a scrapbook or a small album for autographs. But a memory book is more than just a photo book and more than just a scrapbook of collected items. In essence, a memory book is a story book and, perhaps, a cross between scrapbook photo albums and a memoir and a time capsule.
A memoir is a book-length history of a person’s life and times, or a snapshot of a period within a person’s life. A memory book combines images and saved items or memorabilia with a short story to accompany each memory. The stories can be told from your loved one’s own working memory or they can be told from an observer’s point of view: spouse, sibling, child, family friend, etc.
Here are a few examples of a memory, or keepsake book:
- Vacation memory books
- Family history books
- Wedding albums
- Birthday albums
- Baby book
- Children’s book
- School memory books / yearbooks
- And more!
The Importance of Creating a Memory Book
A memory book is a great way to celebrate life, keep track of your own memories or to record the life of a loved one. Family members and friends can take comfort in knowing that they have some physical memories of their family member close to their heart. Just knowing that they can pull out a memory book at any time and peruse through the pages can bring peace of mind to those who are grieving the loss of their family member or friend.
The process of creating a memory book and writing down either your own memories or those of your parent can be an act of therapy, healing, and reconciling. You may want to face things that happened in your past or you may be working your way through the grief and loss of a loved one or coming to grips with the approaching loss of someone who is in poor health. Creating a memory book may be the right thing to help you through your stages of grief.
Additionally, some people create memory books for their parent or loved one who is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, a head injury or amnesia. A memory book can be a precious link to someone’s past and the memories stored deep within. For someone who suffers from long-term memory loss, looking at pictures and hearing stories from their own life can help to jog memories and bring them back to the surface. A memory book can also serve as a resource for caregivers.
Keeping Track of Memories
There are no rules when it comes to the creative process. You can start recording memories as early in life as you like. And you can use whatever method feels natural or right for you. Some people like to put aside a block of time every day for keeping a journal, while others choose to gather their thoughts at the end of the week or month, for example.
The place where you choose to create your memory book is also personal. You may want a quiet corner at home to get comfortable and be creative. You may want to sit outside amongst the sounds of nature. Or you may feel energized by working in a coffee shop or other public place. Listening to music can also prompt creative juices.
You can also choose different methods of recording your memories. If you enjoy writing, you may want to type away on a keyboard or use a good, old-fashioned pen or pencil. Perhaps you are more vocal, so audio or video recordings will seem more enjoyable to you. If you are creating a memory book for a parent or parents, you could work as a team with a sibling or another family member to get the job done. Sometimes a group effort can organically result in the creation of something bigger and better than what one person could dream up.
Whichever way you choose to create your memory book, be sure to stay consistent. Don’t leave out the details that will be a valuable part of the story once you or your loved one is gone. Think about the audience you are creating the memory book for. What will they want to remember? What will be important to them?
Which Memories Are Most Important?
Most memory books recall snippets from a person’s life. And it’s also important to include the ups and downs along the way. After all, no one’s life is perfect. We all face personal struggles and hardships. Those difficulties are often the things that build our personal character and teach us life lessons that we can pass on to others. This is the gold in our stories. So, don’t be shy about capturing memories and telling them.
Here are some memories you may want to keep in mind.
- Family milestones
- High school milestones / challenges
- Life goals
- Work / career
- Engagement /marriage
- Children, child development
- Volunteer work
- Starting a business
- Embarking on a journey (physical, spiritual, etc.)
- Trips / vacations
- Health challenges
- Losses in your life (parting ways, death, etc.)
- Accomplished items on your bucket list
- And more!
Formatting Your Memory Book
As with creating your memory book, there are also no hard and fast rules regarding formatting or theme. The theme you choose can be whatever seems appropriate: life lessons, growing up in the South, etc. And formatting can also take a variety of shapes. You may want to create a chronologically based memory book, from birth through current day. You could divide it by years or by decades. You can also choose to format your memory book with a section for each subject matter: childhood, work years, military, marriage, parenting, retirement, health, etc.
Preserving your family history will undoubtedly be a rewarding process for you and for those who will cherish the result of your hard work. Whether it’s your life story or the life story of a loved one, it will surely be cherished by generations to come.