Today my Facebook account threw a completely curved ball at me by suddenly showing me a picture and announcing that it was what I had posted three years ago today. It was of my family on holiday in Thailand and I was really quite taken aback to see it so unexpectedly. Especially given the weather in the UK at the moment! [The above picture is of "our" beach but minus my family!]
That wonderful treat of a holiday is still very much fixed in the minds of my family, despite others since. The place, people, food and general feeling of the place seem somehow to have implanted themselves on us. How does this happen? Does it happen when you get a perfect combination of those factors? Do all your senses have to have been affected before you can take away such a clear memory?
I have written about the vagaries of memory before - pondering on how we store apparently long forgotten memories, only to have then reawakened unexpectedly. Silent Witness this week included a police officer who suddenly realised that, as a child, he had been involved in the killing of his father. You would think that such an event would be too traumatic to block out but it is well documented that we can block things if our brains choose. Especially events when we are very young.
On a family tree, you can see literally the bare branches of a family laid out. Memory is what provides the leaves, the detail. There is currently a competition on Find My Past for the best family tree. There are various categories but all have the advice that the judges are looking for details. Not just names and places and dates. Real personal information like newspapers articles, photos and family anecdotes.
A good start is that Family Tree magazine this month has an article on how to extract detail from old diaries. Diaries and letters can of course provide much information about dates and relationships. Just make sure that you read the other stuff too. Trying to get a sense of a person is a greater skill than finding the name and date. Use other people's trees on Ancestry and other sites - people chasing the same family connections may have different photos and anecdotes to yours.
And even if you are not mad enough (!) to start a blog, do make a note of your own memories if you have the time. Even Facebook entries can provide an interesting memory every now and then, amongst all the selfies, dancing animals and other delights.