National Day of Listening is an unofficial holiday that's celebrated on the Friday following Thanksgiving. It was first launched by the national oral history project group, StoryCorps, in 2008 as an alternative the popular Black Friday shopping tradition. Generally, families are together over the long Thanksgiving weekend, with many members making this weekend their only annual trip back home. With loved one gathered 'round, Friday is the perfect time to make an oral recording of your family's personal history.
In many cultures, the eldest members pass down the history and traditions of the tribe to the younger generations, thus preserving memorable and important historical facts and events. But this isn't as common as it once was. It's kind of nice, I think, to learn about your family's history and struggles directly from "horse's mouth," so-to-speak. Without these personal histories, we loose sight of where we came from, our family's struggles and triumphs; we loose our identity and all those things that make us unique and special. For example, I recently learned from my great-grandmother that my ancestors were some of the original setters in Land of Lily Pad and one, in particular, was actually the court jester to the original monarchy! I was thrilled to learn this, but this important historical family fact might have been lost forever if my great-grandmother hadn't had the foresight to tell me. As a writer, she knew I'd see that our family history got recorded for my little brother, Quigley, and all future generations of the Wart family.
So, instead of going shopping this Friday, why not spend the day with your family, listening to their stories, recollections, and memories while recording them for future generations. Better yet, make a video! Plan on making a new recording or video every year, or two. Time passes quickly and details can become lost or fuzzy.
Imagine how wonderful it will be, years from now, when you sit down with with your own grandchildren, and listen to the stories told by the relatives who are no longer with you. I know I am eager to record more of my family history this weekend! There's so much more I want to learn. After all, frogs do come from very large families and I'm quite sure there will be lots more fascinating historical tidbits to be told.
You can go shopping any ol' time, right? So why spend precious family time this holiday weekend getting pushed around some over-crowded mall? Instead, why not gather together all of your loved ones, grab a recorder (or video camera) and record your own family's oral history. Everyone, even the youngest members, will have something of interest to add. Making beautiful memories that will last a lifetime and beyond, is kind of what Thanksgiving is all about; being grateful for all the special people that fill our life with love, laughter, and stories.
From the Wart family to yours, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! See you all back here on Monday.