A couple of weeks ago I read an article about family photos.  As many of us, I also have a lot of photographs of my family, scattered among several shoe boxes and not in albums as they should be.

It’s just one of those, “I really should label and put them in albums, or make photo books,” alas, I never seem to find the time or motivation to actually do this.

The article I read noted how family members aren’t usually living close together and seldom pass on family stories and legends, let alone photos.

One solution is to ask older relatives to sit in the kitchen with the host or hostess while preparing a meal.  A perfect time to ask about holiday meals while they were growing up and to draw out stories to be shared with other family members.  Often these conversations go on to tap memories the aunt, uncle or cousin have buried.

If family members bring photos, let them tell you about each one and reassure them you will take care of them as you have copies made. If you don’t have a scanner, then use a smart phone to take clear photos for your album.

The article gives hints about how to get a grandmother or grandfather to open up about other people, e.g. “what was it like raising Aunt Susie?” This is better than asking an older person to talk about themselves, though on the other hand, it also can open the flood gates and makes one wonder how they can end the conversations that go on and on.  Be patient, these are conversations one may never hear again.

As a reporter, I learned quickly not to ask “yes” or “no” questions, but frame them to draw out a conversation with “how” and “why?”  The article ends with the reminder that earlier generations were raised to be less confessional and not used to baring their souls.

In my family, Aunt Maude was not at all reticent and if she had the opportunity – she grew up during the Great Depression- she would have been a really good fiction writer.  She had stories, oh my, did she ever! Still miss you Aunt Maude, but maybe she’s regaling the angels who let her keep the stories coming.