by Maureen TaylorÂ
Halloween is gone. Poof. Just like that the stores are full of winter decorations–trees, menorahs, and the ever present Santa. Everything happens so quickly at this time of year itâ€™s like being in the high speed lane of the local interstate. It is possible to survive the holiday season, with sanity intact, by planning ahead and developing a sense of humor. Unexpected visits by relatives and cranky cousins add to your stress levels, but try to offset the tension with a little family history. Donâ€™t put your charts and notes away for the holidays. Take them out and show them off. This is a great time of year to be mindful of family history.
If youâ€™re overwhelmed by relatives wanting to know â€œWhatâ€™s for dinner?â€ and â€œWhen will it be ready?â€ then redirect their attention. Keep them busy. Along with a platter of appetizers serve them a helping of family history. Pick out your family photo mysteries and put copies in a scrapbook with a blank facing page for comments. Leave a pen attached to the book and ask for each person to write something about the picture such as the details they see or who it might be. Make sure they sign their name beside their remarks. They might see something youâ€™ve overlooked. That cantankerous relative could turn into your personal genealogical gift-giver when he identifies a photo of your second great-grandfather.
Drag Out the Pictures
In addition, suggest relatives bring their own mystery photos in a similar scrapbook. Leave the originals at home. This activity is for copies only. You wouldnâ€™t want a dot of gravy in the middle of a priceless heirloom. Donâ€™t forget to take a few minutes to look over these goodies. You might discover some new information.
Display the Family
Oversized nineteenth-century pedigree charts often came equipped with a bar across the top so the owner could show off their lineage by putting it on display. If youâ€™re surrounded by relatives this year, purchase an oversized chart, fill it in (as much as possible) and pin it up in a prominent spot. Family members are sure to gather â€˜round it talking about the folks youâ€™ve mentioned.
Capture the Moment
Get the teenager in your house (or another interested family member) to tape record the stories of childhood escapades, memories of favorite foods, and past holidays. These sounds will mix together for a piece of oral memorabilia worth keeping.
These four activities will keep those restless relatives busy until dinnerâ€™s served leaving you with some quiet time in the kitchen. Itâ€™s a long holiday season, so keep the chart, scrapbook, and camera handy for the next gathering. Youâ€™re sure to generate some genealogical cheer.
By the way, the comment section of this blog is for you. Leave behind your ideas for integrating genealogy into the holidays. Itâ€™s your chance to share your activities with others. Letâ€™s start a discussion.
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When Maureen Taylor isnâ€™t cooking for a crowd sheâ€™s writing about family history and photography. Visit her on the web at www.photodetective.com.