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Year in Review
By Michael Boyter

As another year draws to an end, it is time to reflect and preserve the individual and family memories of the past year.

Things not written down or recorded are often forgotten. This is a fact.

Keeping family memories and stories alive is very important to aid in the cohesiveness of family and it can be a very rewarding experience to look back to see where we were and how we’ve grown over the past year. (Important Note: Its not necessary to record everything, of course What you choose to record is totally up to you.)

Ideally we’d all keep a daily, weekly or monthly journal throughout the year, but often times, we don’t keep up with one. So its time for a little catch up work. Here are some quick ideas and tips for reviewing the events in your life from the past year.

Begin by…

Breaking down the year by month, season or major milestones and/or events.


Health: What big changes in your health occurred this year? If this category doesn’t jog your memory; it is probably a good thing.

Prescriptions: Anything newly prescribed to you this year? What was it for? Again, this is only a suggestion to spark your memory of things that happened over the past year. Some will consider this too private and that is fine.

Occupation: Write about changes and highlights in your career. Tell about awards won, promotions received or interesting happenings around the office or on the job.

History: Write about “This time a year ago…”

Births: Any newborns this year?

Those that have passed away: Write about those who’ve passed away this year. Include family, friends and, if there was a well-known individual (someone famous) that also passed, tell about them as well if that person meant anything to you.

Travel and Residences: Where did you travel to this year? Who did you travel to see? Who in the family moved closer or farther away? Why did they or you move this year?

List your major purchases throughout the year. What prompted these purchases? Take a look in your wallet or purse to dig up old receipts. Use copies of old checks, or an onlinebank ledger/statement to remind you of where you went and what you did.

Children: Don’t forget your children. What were some of the milestones in their lives this past year?

Scan young children’s drawings and art projects – They draw so many and it is hard to keep them all…and even harder to throw them away. Select the best and scan them and save them digitally.

Review your pictures taken and video shot during the last year. Describe the events seen in the pictures and events. For example, birthday parties, events at school with the kids etc.

Look for scribbled-in writing on your wall or desk calendar. Don’t throw it away until you check to see what you’ve written on it.

Get with other members of your family. See what they remember. Don't think you have to do it all by yourself. These are just ideas and suggestions. Use them to jog your memory and tailor them to your individual circumstance. Having a record of each year will, in the end, prove to be a very valuable compilation of family happenings and history.

If you can't remember what you had for breakfast 7 days ago, how will you remember what you and the family did 20 years ago?

You will cherish looking back at the years…but only if you put the effort in now to preserve the memories.

Time marches on and the years blur together. Time is no friend to the procrastinating historian!

Copyright 2004 - Michael R. Boyter runs the website and is the creator of the fill-in-the-blank life story workbook Memorygrabber. "Tools and Toys for the Family Historian in Us All".

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