I was overjoyed recently to learn that my teenage granddaughter, unbeknownst to me, shared my love of history. Not the facts and figures kind but fascination for the stories of lives lived before our own. She was asking if there were any interesting stories in our family. Going through old photos (some very old) I pointed out some of the characters from favourite family tales, my grandfather who got disinherited for marrying a gypsy girl, my father, one of the three in his battalion to make it back from the early WW2 Burma campaign etc. As I went through the photos I came across more and more stories and then it hit me – everyone had a story to tell, different stories, some adventure, some travel logs, some character studies, some love stories etc. but everyone has one.
I’ve always been fascinated by people’s stories and have often chatted with old folks to absorb all I could, finding them a treasure trove of historic information and frequently incredible tales. You just never know who that frail old lady or gentleman perched on a walking stick is! In bygone days (before TV, internet, or even gas lamps and the printing press), it was common practise to sit around the fire at night and tell stories. The old and ancient ones would tell of the battles and wonders of their youth. These stories were retold and passed on from generation to generation (often getting just a tad exaggerated in the process lol!) giving rich earth in which families might grow rooted in understanding of their personal heritage.
I realised in our present high tech age my granddaughter knew next to nothing of her personal heritage, nothing of the heroes, the medals, the great achievements of some of her not so distant relatives.( She was pleasantly surprised). Considering we English are well known for our historical reverence, I was quite shocked at the realisation that so much, so many wonderful stories are disappearing forever. Perhaps we need to revive an old and ancient custom.