I currently serve as a family history consultant in my ward, and I have developed a love for personal histories. We forget, as members of the LDS church that doing genealogy work is not limited to pedigree charts and finding names to take to the temple. A personal history is congruent with the 3 fold mission of the church. Perfect the saints. Redeem the dead. Proclaim the gospel. A Journal is therapeutic tool. It can be a tool for perfecting ourselves, and also a wonderful way to share the gospel with our kindred. The Book of Mormon itself is a history of an ancient civilization. We can redeem the dead mainly through temple work. The spirits our our kindred dead remain on the earth with us, and they know the work that we do. When we write in our journals about them, or look at photos of them, it is a type of redemption.
Documenting your personal history can be achieved by different things.
The most popular is taking photographs. I encourage you to take a picture a day, and thoroughly document the simple joys and mundane pleasures of daily living, along with important milestones and lavish travel. Purchase a good quality camera. Here is a great article on how to purchase a camera for beginners http://photography.lovetoknow.com/Choose_a_Digital_Camera_for_a_Beginner
Most people turn their nose up at the thought of sitting down with a journal and writing how the day dragged on. There are several electronic resources available that prevent us from the dreaded pen-and-paper. Many don't realize that blogging is keeping a journal. One of the most famous bloggers that I know of is Stephanie Nielson of the Nie Nie dialogues. She blogs as a history for her children. She also inspired me to start a journal for my son. I have recorded his milestones and anecdotes, his birth story, and little love notes for him. I plan to keep a journal like this for all of my children until they leave on their mission or get married, and include them in their dowry. (that is for another post. I love the idea of a dowry) So go get a blog domain from wordpress, or blogspot, or wherever you would like to blog. There is also an online journal that I like to use.
Now, I don't know about you, but the idea of scrapbooking to me is overwhelming. The products available are vast, and ideas are numerous. I have not yet gotten into scrapbooking, so my knowledge is limited. here are some links to digital scrapbooking : http://freedigitalscrapbooking.com/ ;http://www.smilebox.com/scrapbooks.html?partner=google&campaign=search_scrapbooks&gclid=CPfh3Kb25qwCFQZeTAodYiPhbA
and for those of you living in the mesa area, Mystic paper on main street is the most scrumptious little scrapbooking shop.
I don't even scrapbook, but I found myself so incredibly inspired while walking through this quaint little shop.
One thing I can say Is that I don't believe that pictures belong in a book. Pictures belong in our homes as reminders of the wonderful life we live. fill your scrapbook with report cards, locks of hair, drawings, pressed flowers. Anything goes.
That brings me to my next idea on personal history. When I was a teenager, I created what I called "my spiritual scrapbook" as a 10 hour project for Personal Progress. I filled it with my favorite talks, journal entries where I recorded my testimony, favorite scriptures, quotes, and collages of my favorite temples. This was probably the neatest thing That I have ever done for my personal history. My purpose it creating it was to have something I could read through and look back on every time I was struggling either with the gospel or with personal aspects of my life (cause I had a LOT of them growing up). This kept my faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ strong as I made my way through each trial , and I was able to see the hand of my Father in heaven involved in my life.
I strongly encourage you to make this a family activity.
The last thing I want to talk about is time capsules. I don't know why time capsules are not practiced more than they are. It is a really neat concept. It's like your own personal treasure chest. I made a time capsule when I was 12 (an unsuccessful time capsule, I might add) and It was filled with several things that I could not look at until I was 18. It was a simple cleaned out paint can with a strip of paper hot glued to the outside. I had my peers sign it, and then my capsule was sealed. In it was a pair of baby socks (which I lost, and I'm KICKING myself for it) a Hankie, and an envelope with a letter to myself, and a letter from a friend. The best thing about these is that they are so versatile! You can put whatever you want in them, and depending on what it's made out of, you can put it anywhere. I recommend this as a family activity, too.
I hope this post is helpful. I'd like to share that I think it is so important that we teach our children how to create their own personal history. As a parent, I encourage you to find sentiment in the little things, and find the best way for you to remember them without cluttering your home or stressing you out.