A Special Guest Post by Angela Walton-Raji
How many times do we recall Thanksgiving events from years gone by? We can remember our elders who were at the dinner, and in many cases they prepared the meal that we all enjoyed. Then time passed and they were gone. We miss them, we wish they were still with us, and we wish we had asked the questions we never got to ask. And there are so many questions that could be preserved or stories to pass on, and things to be thankful for today, if only we had asked the right questions then.
So as the National Day of Listening is upon us—the day after Thanksgiving, perhaps we, who will be the elders to future generations, can pay it forward and share stories, traditions, thoughts , beliefs and history with the next generation right now. Here are five reasons to celebrate and participate in, the National Day of Listening. So let’s speak to the elders in the home and hear them.
Share the Stories Before They Are Forgotten
1) Participation in the National Day of Listening allows you and a loved one to share the stories before they are forgotten. Remember the time that grandma’s cake won the prize at the fair? Or there is the story of how one of the relatives followed his calling to become an artist and not the engineer everyone thought he should be. And how many can really tell the story of the gr. uncles who were taken prisoner in the Civil War, and who escaped from N. B Forrest? These stories capture the imagination of the children, instill self-esteem in the young, and continue an important legacy for future generations.
Learn the Meaning of Family Traditions
2) Participation provides opportunity to explain the meaning of the traditions that we celebrate. On some holidays there is a tradition of always having a certain kind of dish to the holiday meal. Beyond the expected dish a certain dish is always included which could be Pawpaw’s favorite ambrosia, Grandma’s dressing, or Daddy’s sweet potato pie. Beyond just the mere enjoyment of the food, explaining why the family always includes something as a tradition establishes a sense of continuing a legacy. Ask your subject about those traditions and how they came to be.
Share Wisdom With Future Generations
3) Participation presents a platform upon which ideas and thoughts can be shared. It is not uncommon to ask oneself what a departed loved one would think if they were there today. Participation in the National Day of listening provides the platform where you can share what they think. Your descendants will have a chance to know and not left to wonder what their ancestors thought. And participation allows the interviewee to share thoughts and emotions for the next generation to hear, and to learn from.
Share Personal Beliefs With the Next Generation
4) Participation in the National Day of Listening allows the speaker to share their personal beliefs with the next generation. Many people wonder what the ancestors believe in, from their religious faith, to their thoughts of what the future may hold. Participation in the National Day of Listening answers that question. Find out your subject’s primary motivation and share his/her insights, and beliefs for the listeners. By getting answers to these questions now, you have given the next generation the gift of an answer before the question is even asked.
Preserve History for Future Generations
5) Participation presents the opportunity to preserve history for future generations. Many will have questions about what the past was like. Their past will be a part of the next generation’s ancestral past. And some of those questions that they will answer now, will be answered by you in the future. Your participation in the National Day of Listening will keep the stories told today a part of the future. So speak to someone, listen to their story, and preserve the story they tell.
About Angela Walton-Raji
A founding member of AfriGeneas.com, Angela Walton-Raji is a genealogist, educator, lecturer and author specializing in information for beginners, via daily and weekly online genealogy chats on AfriGeneas. As host of the weekly African Roots Podcast, a number of instructional videos and as an expert consultant on video documentaries, Ms. Walton-Raji combines her skills as a genealogist with a warm on camera personality that brings comfort to her viewers through her instructional videos on YouTube, while providing them with useful information. She is a published author, host of blogs My Ancestor’s Name, African-Native American Genealogy and The USCT Chronicle.
About StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening
Each year, StoryCorps asks all Americans to set aside an hour on the day after Thanksgiving to interview a friend, loved one or community member about their lives, and to record the interview using recording equipment that is readily available in most homes, such as computers, smartphones, tape recorders or pen and paper, along with StoryCorps’ free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide.
Once your recording is complete, you can post it to StoryCorps’ interactive Wall of Listening. Then share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Please be sure to post to our Lowcountry Wall of Listening on Facebook to tell us who you interviewed!