Family history is a subject that interests people from all walks of life. Learning about those who came before us tells us much about who we are. When we record our own history, it can be just as useful and interesting to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as our ancestor’s histories are to us.
Long ago, people wrote letters, recorded events in bibles and journals and kept scrapbooks to keep track of their personal histories. These days, we have so many more options. Blogging, the practice of keeping a personal record via an online web log, has become very popular and today’s version of scrap-booking is a way to preserve photographs using archival quality products as well as fun, artistic elements. I have enjoyed both of these activities, as well as journal writing. However, there is another way I keep my personal history that I find fun, informative and valuable.
I received my first charm bracelet when I was about twelve years old. It was a Christmas gift from “Santa Claus” and the gift included a sterling silver charm of Old St. Nick himself. There was also a ballerina, a charm to represent my avid interest in ballet and the lessons I was taking. The following summer, my family took a trip to Mexico and I added a charm of a Mexican sombrero to commemorate the fun time we had together.
I have continued to add to the bracelet over the past thirty plus years and love reflecting on the memories each charm represents. There are charms that signify accomplishments, special events, vacations, hobbies and special memories. One of the charms was a gift from my sister when I acted as Maid of Honor at her wedding reception. A tiny handcart commemorates my pioneer ancestors. For many years I wanted to learn to play the violin and when I finally did, I purchased a charm, a wee violin, to remind me of that accomplishment.
The charms that represent the most meaningful events for me are the temple, commemorating my temple marriage to my husband, and the charms that represent my three children: a baby shoe, a high chair and a rabbit. I often explain the meaning of each charm to my children and look forward to adding more “history charms” to this bracelet as life unfolds. It is a beautiful and tangible history that I hope my descendants will enjoy for generations to come.
In the end, it isn’t important how we record our personal history—it’s simply important that we do it. Oral record keeping can be distorted and forgotten over time, whereas a written history, along with photographs and other artifacts (such as my charm bracelet) keep the story straight for all who choose to learn from what we have written. How grateful I am for the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon in particular, both the result of people choosing to write down what they knew of Christ. Without these cherished records, we would not know of Jesus Christ and His teachings. When we choose to write what we know of Christ, we are recording the most valuable information our descendants could possibly have.
I know that Christ lives. I know that He is my Savior and my Redeemer. I know that He knows me and that He loves me and that His gospel and His church are true.