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December 2012

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Digital Photos and the Holiday

December 26, 2012

Christmas yesterday must have seen countless picture taken, but consider how many of them were "snapped" by a phone with a built-in camera. That's the nature of our digital age. It is easy to take pictures and the digital format is now the norm.

kids at Christmas 2012I find I am doing it. But the trap that we might be falling into is not preserving, and more importantly, viewing these photos like we used to. When I was growing up you had to develop the pictures and as a result we were more selective. There was more posing and the conversations we had around family photo albums always made for good times. They are good memories still.

We should certainly take advantage of today's technology. But I hope that we are doing more with our photos than just posting them to social media and texting them to each other. I love the convenience and immediacy of that. But we should still take advantage of printing photos and saving them in a format that can be reviewed, shared and discussed. One of the best gifts my wife and I got this Christmas were photos of our grandchildren that were blown up to  12 x 12 inches and mounted on a hardstock so that we can display them on stands. It wasn't extravagant, but it is wonderful to behold.

Enjoy the pictures and the memories, particularly at this time of year. I encourage you to read more about this subject with the fine blog post by Association of Personal Historians member Vickie Churpurdia - Do Real Photos Generate More Family Stories?

Christmas Eve and the Story of Your Life

December 24, 2012

Magical ChristmasFor many of us Christmas is a magical time. It brings up visions of childhood dreams, innocence, joy, peace, family and love. As the years go on we grow older and perhaps a little wiser. But the magic of Christmas time can still be real and held deeply in your heart, even if you don't celebrate the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ.

A message from the baby born in Bethlehem still can resonate in today's often confusing and frightening world. Don't let go of the hope that love conquers fear and hate.

In the past decade I've watched and aided as more and more people have made the decision to preserve their life story in writing. Now more than ever the means to do so are expanding. This story, Senior authors embrace self-publishing, posted in the Sun Sentinel is just one of many I've seen pointing to the desire and ways of self-publishing autobiography, memoir and life story. Even the big publishers are taking notice and action.

In this Holiday Season may you find the joy of a life well lived and also documented. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good life.

Another End of the World

December 20, 2012

The Mayan calendar has one of its cycles ending tomorrow (December 21, 2012) and over the years it has prompted a lot of doomsday prophecies and predictions (see Will the end of the world strike tomorrow? Well, we've heard these apocolyptic predictions before and we are still here.

Tomorrow is my son's 19th birthday. When the Mayan Calendar predictions started making the rounds of media (and social media) a few years back he would exclaim, "Unfair! Come on! On my birthday?" Now he's pretty much laughing it off and we're hoping it is another missed call on the end of the world since we have a nice dinner out planned for Saturday.

It would be wonderful if the end of certain things in our world came about. Like the end of poverty, hunger, violence, over-consumerism, prejudice, terminal illness, disease and selfishness. I'd go for that.

The end of procrastination might also be a good thing. So many of us (myself included) put off worthwhile projects. Sooner or later you run out of time. When it comes to preserving life stories it is the ultimate shame to miss out because we kept putting it off.

As we wind down the year 2012 maybe you will make saving some family history a priority for the coming year. It takes a bit of time and effort, but at least making a start is better than doing nothing. You can check out the many suggested resources I have for you and go to the get started page for a bit more information.

As for tomorrow, since it is the first day of the Christmas break at the school where I teach, I plan on sleeping in for a change. So if the end comes early in the morning I might just snooze right through it.  But, if as I suspect life goes on, then I'll no doubt do some journaling and probably another blog post.

I'll end this post with a line from Semisonic's song Closing Time: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

Life + Love = Legacy

December 17, 2012

Think about how you want to be remembered. What do you want to be known for? What is your legacy?

The life we live should be lived fully. Every moment counts. That concept has once again been brought home to us with stark certainty following the horrible event at Sandy Hook Elementary School this past Friday. The town of Newton, Connecticut is grieving. So, too, is anyone who appreciates life, and most especially, young children. As an elementary school teacher the news of the shootings and deaths is felt deeply.

Our world is not always a pretty place. Sad and tragic things happen. But beauty also happens. Love is strong. Light is better than the darkness. Good can prevail.  Live your life each day with the gratitude for the gift it is. Love completely and unconditionally. Do that and your legacy will be life + love.

The Once in a Century 12-12-12

December 11, 2012

Tomorrow the calendar makes one of those unusual numerical lineups as December 12 of this year yields a 12-12-12 configuration.

What is the significance of such a date? Like other same number month, day and year lineups (remember 7-7-7 a few years ago) people want to attach some significance to it. And that alone can help make the date memorable. People get married. People document. People call for help.

This year the One Day on Earth organization again is urging people to do something special in a 24 hour period and video record it to submit for documentation. This year saw the release of their very well made One Day on Earth film. I received my DVD copy in the past month and it is excellent, edited down from an incredible amount of video submitted from the 10-10-10 day two years ago. Last year they encouraged people to do it again on  November 11 (11-11-11) and, yes, things are well underway for another historic day tomorrow (December 12, 2012). More about this on their website.

Additionally, 12-12-12 is a rallying cry with a benefit concert to help victims of Hurricane Sandy that caused so much damage and hardship to east coast citizens of the United States. The concert will be streamed globally and viewed on television with an expected audience of 2 billion. Performing are major music icons such as the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, The Who and others. The hope is that a significant amount of funds will be raised to help the hurricane victims through the Robin Hood Relief Fund. Information available at

Secret Santa Chronicles

December 1, 2012
Secret Santa Chronicales
At my school many of the teachers are participating in some Secret Santa fun. We drew names of teachers and each of us will secretly shop and give a gift for five days. What makes it fun is that our gifts are small in price, but big in caring. The first gift is in the dollar range, and the next three days increase by a dollar or so. On Friday, December 14, we'll have a little Christmas party after school and give the final gift ($10-15 range) and reveal the secret Santas.

In order to help with the shopping each of us filled out a survey of our likes and dislikes. The whole idea gives me a personal history idea. Wouldn't it be fun to chronicle your Secret Santa story? Each day write a short entry about what you shopped for and describe the gift and why you chose it. In the end you'd have a neat little story to preserve and share (if you choose) with your gift recipient.

I know I've been having fun shopping for the teacher whose name I drew out of our "selection bowl". It's my first year at this school and I'm still getting to know the teachers, but this gives me a chance to know them better and enjoy some holiday gift fun. I plan to journal about it and in the end perhaps I'll share it with my teacher friend.

It's not too late for you to write and preserve a holiday memory this year, but keep in mind that your end result will be limited in scope and production because there's only a month left in 2012. But it could be the start of a bigger project. Spend some time thinking ahead to next year and what family or personal life stories you want to preserve. You might even consider giving a gift certificate as a promise to fulfill that life story project by next year.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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