National Day of Listening – November 27


Once again the holiday season is upon us, a time to gather with family and friends and gorge ourselves on way too much food and drink. But wait, there’s more! Thanks to a reminder from Dan Curtis, personal historian, it is also the National Day of Listening, so-designated by StoryCorps:

The National Day of Listening is November 27, 2009.

On the day after Thanksgiving, set aside one hour to record a conversation with someone important to you. You can interview anyone you choose: an older relative, a friend, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood.
You can preserve the interview using recording equipment readily available in most homes, such as cell phones, tape recorders, computers, or even pen and paper. Our free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide is easy to use and will prepare you and your interview partner to record a memorable conversation, no matter which recording method you choose.
Make a yearly tradition of listening to and preserving a loved one’s story. The stories you collect will become treasured keepsakes that grow more valuable with each passing generation.

So maybe you have to do the day before if the relatives are only in town for the day? That’s ok, too. This could be your golden opportunity to record some of those precious stories that get told around the table when everyone starts reminiscing about “what life was like when I was a kid,” which nobody normally pays any attention to. They’re usually loaded with nuggets that if aren’t written down soon could be lost for good.

Head on over to StoryCorps’ Do-It-Yourself-Guide for lots of hints and tips and advice on how to get started. Carpe diem, and all that!

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20 thoughts on “National Day of Listening – November 27

  1. That’s a beautiful idea. I’m so glad that I had both my grandmothers for so long. Their stories really did enrich me.

    I think I will find someone to interview for the 27th.

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  2. I got an e-mail from someone at StoryCorps thanking me for the mention, and asking me to blog about my experience in interviewing someone. Now I have to find someone to interview! I did the post mostly for those who still have family members they could talk to, there’s really no one left in my family. Hopefully others can take advantage of the time while they still have those people in their lives.

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      1. We have one more write-in this Sunday that I’m going to (there are others, but on the east side of Portland, too far to drive). But here’s the sad part: I think I am the oldest person there.

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  3. It’s only sad for the Day of Listening project: I’m actually delighted that so many young people are writing something, anything!

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  4. The youngest member of our group is an adorable little 14-yr-old girl who sat with me and three other ladies last weekend. I challenged her to a word-war from 4:45-5:00, and she cranked out one more word than I did in that time 😉 (I think her final count was 459 words). She’s writing some kind of fantasy novel, with a lot of Greek myths incorporated.

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  5. My MIL is 84 and she tells the most wonderful stories of Brooklyn in the 1930 — 1950’s. Even her stories as one of the original NJ Levitt-development “settlers” in the 1970’s are great (although her kids constantly tell her their recollections of those same events are completely different). Of course, she can’t recall what she had for breakfast that morning, but when she talks about working for Eastman Kodak she remembers every detail ~ her dress, the store, how crowded the subway was that day.

    We will be having a sizable contingent of young adults around the table tomorrow — maybe we can start our national day of listening early?

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  6. Whatever works for you! If you’ve got the wherewithal to record the conversation (one of those little EVRs would be perfect!) during a chaotic dinner, you are my hero! Seriously, though, as an amateur genealogist I can tell you these things increase in value as the years go by, so getting anything recorded in whatever fashion is convenient is a great start.

    That’s funny about your MIL, my own mother was kind of like that. Always swore she had the memory of an elephant, never forgot a thing. If I had a nickel for every time we talked about something and got that blank, deer-in-the-headlights stare when she had completely forgotten something, I’d be rich 😉

    I still haven’t come up with anyone to interview 😦

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  7. Heh. I’m just like Rosie’s MIL. I have distinct, vivid memories going back to when I was about two. And I’ll remember the most trivial things from forever ago… but what I had for breakfast or someone’s name? I’m that dear-in-the headlight.

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  8. Somewhat sad update to Rosie’s MIL — my BIL just called to say he will be late bringing Mom b/c she forgot today is Thanksgiving and the plan to come to our house for family dinner. A little voice inside me is saying things are about to take an inevitable turn…..

    But I am still grateful for the day, and wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving ~ with family by chance and by choice around them.

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  9. Ah, Rosie, sorry to hear it. Hope the day goes well, in spite of this little setback.

    Happy Thanksgiving, All! I’ve got the bird in the oven, nearly time to go start the rolls, get the dough rising. Tasha, do you do the big turkey dinner over there?
    Can you even get turkeys in Berlin?? 🙂

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  10. Rosie,

    So sorry to hear that about your MIL. All the best to her and your family. I hope your Thanksgiving was a wonderful one, regardless.

    DD,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! No- we didn’t celebrate the holiday here. I think turkeys are available *somewhere*. No doubt at a frightening price! So it was a pretty normal day for me.

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  11. Dear DD and gypsyscarlett,
    Thank you for your good wishes. The day turned out just fine, and just reminded me how much fun there can be in dysfunction as well. (if that makes any sense) i guess thru all of life you must keep a sense of humor, and just roll with what comes.

    it’s a little after 8AM on Friday and the house is quiet. i’m brewing some fresh coffee and most seriously considering apple pie and ice cream for my breakfast.

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  12. I’m glad to hear it, Rosie. Holidays in general have been very…different… for me these last few years so I’ve learned to enjoy the little things the most – good music, good food, and whatever company I find myself in.

    LOL I had apple pie for b’fast myself! 🙂 Yummy.

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  13. I had stuffing for breakfast on Friday. Rosie will understand why it was such a big deal that my brother and his lovely wife actually made coffee to go w/dessert on Thursday 😉

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  14. We just couldn’t eat any more leftovers after breakfast this (Sunday) morning. The good news is that we did make it down to the barest of scraps, and I am back on the wagon tomorrow.

    But on a Hoiday-related note, I was at Trader Joe’s today and got suckered into buying “Gingerbread Coffee.” Once Starbucks starts using those red cups I fall under some sort of spell and fall for any ginger-laced product. I will report back if the TJ holiday coffee was worth the hype.

    MJB – glad to hear your dessert was complete.

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  15. I recommend buying a big bag of cinnamon sticks and putting one in the brew basket when you make coffee at home. Very Viennese, very tasty, very inexpensive!

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