In these tough economic times, we all struggle with how much we can spend on gifts for the holidays. On top of cost, we then need to be sure of sizes and tastes, or the usefulness or desirability of the chosen gifts.
But there is a gift that is nearly free and will last for generations — your memories, written or recorded.
Now, before you say, “Nobody cares about my stories,” just imagine the thrill if you were to find journals written by a grandparent describing their life 75 or 100 years ago.
As a professional personal historian, I assure you that your stories will mean just as much to your children, and generations beyond.
Even though our lives might appear to be fairly mundane today, things will be different 100 years from now.
Just in the last decades, we now have home computers, Internet, e-mail, cell phones and GPS. These things seemed unlikely for the average person to have 40 years ago. Someday, these items will be relics of another time.
Writing a memoir can seem intimidating at first, but think of it as a series of short stories.
Write about the individual events of your life, rather than one long story from beginning to present.
In fact, with time being short to create a special Christmas gift, consider just writing down your 10 most meaningful memories.
Your stories don’t need to be professionally printed or bound to be valuable.
There are many inexpensive options, such as putting them in a three-ring binder, or having a print shop attach a binding.
Make as many copies as you need, and you have an inexpensive — yet treasured — booklet for every member of your family.
Five Tips for Writing Your Story
• Get organized — Start a three-ring binder to organize your stories and materials.
• Make a list — Brainstorm all the memories and events you’d like to write about.
• Prioritize — Choose 10 of your best or most meaningful memories.
• Write a story — Pick one you feel strongly about and write a few paragraphs about it.
• Add a photo — A relevant photo that corresponds with the story, even if it’s just one of you during that period, adds a visual element.
Repeat the above process until you have as many stories as you’d like to share.
Create a booklet of your top 10 memories this year, then continue adding to it throughout 2010, and by next Christmas you’ll be able to give an entire book of your life experience.
If you’d like more information about life-writing or gift ideas, I am available for advice and ideas at my book signing event Dec. 19 at Loot Resale in the Swiss Village Shops.
I will be signing my book “Write Your Life Story in 28 Days” from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19 at Loot Resale, 616 N. Beeline Highway (next to Payson Candle Factory).
Everyone who attends will receive a free tips sheet with ideas for quick and inexpensive gifts, as well as more writing tips, and there will be a drawing for a writer’s box of goodies.
Since 1998, I have taught life-writing workshops.
For more information about my book, upcoming workshops, or ghostwriting, visit my blog at www.lifestorylady.typepad.com or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.