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How many times have our children asked questions about their grandparents or great grandparents that we simply didn't have the answer to offer? Sometimes those questions are so simple that we feel stunned that we never knew or sought the answer.

There has been a great resurgence in the interest of genealogy over the last few years. It is no longer enough to know simply names, birth dates, and death dates. Young and old alike show an interest in the stories, the folklore that wound together the fibers of what has become known as “the family.”

This is an idea of a gift each of us can offer to our children that will give them a sense of self. In doing so, we will find it to be a gift to ourselves as well. What could be more generous than offering their past? Their heritage? So often we hear people state “I’m searching for myself. I need to know who I am.” That might be in a spiritual sense, but knowing our roots in the literal sense is of as much importance.

The first step is buying a blank book. It can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. If this is not a possibility, simply make a book yourself with any paper or stationery that is available.

Each page should have a question on it. You will want one book for each person you’ll be “interviewing.” Then the fun part begins! Think of the questions. Ask things you don’t know, facts the recipient of the book would like to know. Ask what life was like during their childhood, what their home was like. Ask what chores they had, what scared them, what made them happy. The possibility for questions is truly endless.

Find out the exact ways that things were different “in the olden days.” What was expected of them as children and students? What is remembered about relatives? How did they spend a hot summer day?

What was the first car they rode in or drove? What kind of wedding did they have? What were their parents like? What’s the biggest news story of their childhood that is remembered?

The books can be given to parents, grandparents, and other family members to fill in, or they can be interviewed with the questions and filled into the books by the interviewer. A micro-cassette recorder is a great asset for such interviews.

Bridging the generations in this way is a splendid endeavor. You might just be delighted to hear about Great Granny sneaking out to meet with Grandpa for a turn-of-the-century dance. Or about the trouble your parents got into as children. A whole new life of memories will be opened to you. Family heritage is a true treasure.