December 16

E for Enlightenment

Enlightenment is sharing the memories you’ve preserved. In this post, we’ll show you how you can share your family memories with family and friends.

Paul and Madeline at Wedding in 1956 as Flower Girl and Ring Bearer

A photo from when we were five years old we display in our home

A quick story: If you follow our travel blog, Go Go 2 Slow Go, you know we’ve known each other since we were five years old. We met at my aunt’s wedding in Fort Worth, Texas. Madeline was the flower girl, and I was the ring bearer. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do at the wedding. My mom told I was going to be the ring bearer. But I heard, ring bear. I was so excited to dress up in a bear costume!

In the end, I performed my job (in a cute little suit) and didn’t lose the ring. Madeline gracefully scattered flowers along the bridal path. We have pictures of the event. And later I found out Madeline still had her dress from the wedding.

That brings us back to enlightenment. Finding and organizing your family’s memories isn’t enough. Really, it’s just a means to an end. Enlightenment is that end. Why preserve all these memories if you don’t share them with family and friends. We’ll discuss two types of memories: physical and digital.

Sharing Physical Memories

When we talk about physical memories, we mean anything you can touch: photos, clothing, keepsakes, diaries, records. But don’t keep that stuff in boxes where no one can experience it. Here are some examples of how you can present your memories to the world.

Photos

Don’t worry! We’re not going to tell you to frame every photo you have and cover every inch of wall in your house with them. But there are a couple of things you can do to share many of those photos.

Presentation

Frame a few of your favorite old photos and spread them around your house. Wondering where to put them? Most important family photos often hang in the living room or sit on a sideboard in the dining room. But what about that guest bedroom? We often struggle to decorate spare rooms or spaces. Fill them with memories!

A bathroom might be a good place for that photo of your naked three-year-old son sitting on the potty and yanking every inch of toilet paper off the roll. Do you have a laundry room? Hang that photo of your great-grandmother showing off her brand-new ringer-roller style washing machine from the 1930s. And don’t forget the garage: hang an enlargement of Grandpa posing with his 1965 Chevrolet Impala.

If you’re in your twenties with young kids, don’t be afraid to hang pictures of you and your spouse as children in your kids’ rooms. And if you’re an empty nester, fill your kids’ old rooms with photos of them when they were young doing really embarrassing things! A family of any age can hang photos of different generations of wedding photos along the walls of a hallway.

Collages

Photos of Madeline And Paul in Infinity Sign Collage

An easy-to-make collage to display a few photos in a small space

We understand you might not have the wall space for tons of family photos. If that’s the case, consider creating collages of photos. Stores are full collage frames in which you can present three, five or even a dozen photos. And they don’t take up much real estate on your walls. Madeline made a collage of us in various stages of our life between five and 17 years old.

Give it away

If you have a lot of photos and not much place for them, give them away. Your siblings will appreciate those photos of your parents. And your kids might like to have photos of their grandparents or of themselves when they were young. Wouldn’t you rather have a photo of your mother hanging in your son’s house than in a box in your closet?

Not sure what to give to whom? Think about what interests your family members. Is your son a gearhead? Give him photos that include cars or motorcycles. Does your sister love to travel? Present her with photos of Mom and Dad at the Grand Canyon. Chances are there’s something in your collection that will interest or family member or friend.

Keepsakes

Here are some ideas for presenting keepsakes in your home.

Shadow boxes

Madeline and Paul Memories From Wedding in 1956 in Shadowbox

A shadow box is a great way to display memories

Remember Madeline kept her flower girl dress from my aunt’s wedding? She made a shadow box that contains the dress she wore, the wedding invitation and various photos. We hung it in our bedroom so we can remember the day.

Displays

I’m half Danish from my mother’s side. Grandma Lil and Mom collected Danish plates and figurines. There was a strong Danish community in Chicago, and they purchased plates from Bing and Grundal or Royal Copenhagen. Mom displayed them around our house growing up. When I went to college in Appleton, I bought a couple of Mars Tag (Mother’s Day) plates for Mom. Since my mom, dad and grandmothers have all passed, we have all the Danish history.

Madeline created a couple of places in our house for them. We display the plates in our library. We show off some of the figurines in an étagère we had made. And you don’t have to have anything custom made. You can find all kinds of inexpensive units to display keepsakes.

Madeline and Paul on Wedding Day Photo in Cabinet with Wedding Memorabilia

Display photos among your other memories

Use shelves in bookcases or cabinets to display themed keepsakes. Madeline used a cabinet to display all the items we saved from our wedding. These included photos, unity candle, wedding album and photo CD and video DVD. She also added photos of us from high school.

Madeline and Paul Senior High School Photos in Cabinet With Wedding Memorabilia

Mix old photos with your displays

These memories should see the light of day. If you have many items to display, try rotating them through displays. After all, museums don’t show every piece they have all the time. Create a couple of themed displays around your house, and then rotate corresponding items every couple of months. Know of a family member or friend coming to visit? Rotate in some items you know they’d appreciate. They will!

Sharing Digital Memories

When we talk about digital memories, we mean anything you store on your computer, tablet or phone. This generally includes photos, movies, and music. It also refers to anything physical you’ve digitized, such as photo and movie film, albums and tapes, diaries and other records

Like your physical stuff in boxes, digital items stored on hard drives cannot be experienced by you or your family and friends. Here are some examples of how you can present your memories to the world. Let’s start with photos.

Photos

Madeline is a great photographer. We have more than 750,000 photos. And that number grows every year as we travel more and more places. We also collect a lot of photos from our kids and friends. How do we share them?

Social media

Laptop Computer Displaying Logo of Instagram

Social media is a great to share photos with family and friends

One option is social media. Facebook and Instagram allow you to quickly post small groups of photos with short commentary. And since so many of your family and friends are already on those platforms, it’s convenient for them.

Flickr allows for more photo uploads. And you can organize your photos there into albums, for example Antarctica Trip 2019 or Family Photos 1960-1964. You can then provide a link to your family and friends directly to that album. It’s also easier for family and friends to brows and look at other albums. All have their positive attributes, mainly they’re easy and quick to get a few photos out to loved ones.

While any of these social media options are great, they also carry drawbacks, particularly with privacy. In the dangerous world of hacking, phishing and other nefarious behavior, you should be concerned about privacy.

We also share photos on messaging applications, like Apple Messages and WhatsApp. But sharing more than a couple of photos this way is difficult. They can also get lost for your family and friends among messages about your grandson’s wrestling exploits and whether you should buy another bottle of wine you’re at the store.

Blog

Starting a blog is easier than you might think. You can create a blog for free using WordPress. After you’ve chosen a name and a theme for how the blog will look, you’re ready to start posting. Blogs are a good way to share travel photos. They can also serve as a family history. You can write about different periods in your family’s history, and then add photos and audio and video files.

Another option is a microblog like Tumblr. This is a simplified blogging platform where you can post photos and short captions or commentary (more than Facebook or Instagram, less than a traditional blog).

Connected digital photo frame

If all you want is to share a large group of photos, digital photo frames are a good option. Today, you can put a huge set of digital photos on a flash drive, and then load the photos into a digital frame for viewing. Some photo frames allow you to send emails with photos to the frame. So, you can give your daughter a digital photo frame, and then surprise her with a new photo when you have a great one to share.

After shopping quite a few photo frames, I recommend the PixStar photo frame. They’re reliable and have excellent displays. We’ve given them to all our children.

Music

albums records vinyl LPs 45s 78s 331/3 player analog music

You can share those records after you digitize them

Sharing music with family and friends is a great way to connect. And they can learn a lot about your or family who have passed through music. Make use of those old albums or cassettes!

After you’ve converted your music to digital format, there are a few methods to share it. The easiest way is carrying a portable hard drive to a family gathering. Then your family and friends can copy the music they want to their own computer.

Also consider buying a small hard drive for a family member or friend. Load it with music, and then give it as a gift.

If you’re publishing a blog for photos and stories, you can also post audio files. You won’t be able to publish whole albums or big playlists. But you can write a post about Grandma and include a couple of her favorite songs you’ve digitized from her record collection to go with photos of her.

Movies

Digitizing Old 16mm Film VHS tape Laptop home movies analog digital conversion preserving family memories

Digitize those old movies, and then share them

You can share home movies or movies you’ve purchased with your family and friends. I’ll cover the details in another post. But for now, here are some of the basics.

Plex Media Server data storage

After you’ve converted your movies to digital format, I recommend Plex to share them. Plex is free software that lets you share your collection with others. After they sign up with Plex, they request a sharing code for you. After you’ve completed the electronic handshake, they can see your collection and stream it. Sharing home movies or even Hollywood films on VHS or DVD on platforms like Plex is legal, if you don’t charge money.

Truth be told, converting movies (8 MM, Beta, VHS) to a digital format is a bit of work. It’s not as simple ripping audio files from a CD on your computer. With our VHS tapes, we used a piece a machine converted VHS to DVD. After that, I transferred the digital version to Plex.

If you’re publishing a blog for photos and stories, you can also post video files. You won’t be able to publish whole films. But you can write a post about Grandma and include a short home movie to go with photos of her.

And, of course, there’s always YouTube. It’s free to join and start uploading videos. You can start a family channel that you can make private (limited access) and organize your videos into playlists. After you give certain family and friends permission, they can access it anytime, anywhere and enjoy that video of your daughter hugging her pinata and refusing to let anyone hit it at her fifth birthday party.

If you need help with your VHS tapes, let us know and we can help you out.

Now you have some ideas of for enlightenment. It’s the last step in our DOTAGE path. Following our steps will assist you in preserving your family’s memories for generations to come.

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