Sleuthing For The Holidays

Halloween is this week. You know what that means, right? The holidays are right around the corner! In all the preparing, traveling, and shopping, remember to socialize with those you love. What a great time to interview your relatives for family history time!

You do not need to do a formal interview, just casually stick in some questions now and then. Bring old photos you’ve been wondering about and find out the story behind them. Just seeing a photo will bring back memories to those you hold dear. But, most importantly, write down the dates and the names of the people in the photos. You may know who they are now, but twenty years from now, will you remember, will your children?

Ask something personal, like what their nickname was and why. Did they grow up in a house, an apartment, a city or a suburb? What are the different jobs your parents or grandparents held? Did they meet their grandparents and great grandparents? Where did they grow up?

How did couples you know meet? What led them to where they are now?

At the end of each of my Family History Detectives class, I gave my students a Family History Mystery to solve. They had to find out what their family tradition was, why and who started it? Another one was to find out about a recipe that has been passed down and why it is so special.

My Aunt recently gave me a bunch of photos that had been passed down. Most had no information on them. I created a family Facebook page and scanned the photos so my cousins and aunts and uncles could weigh in about them. It helped me tremendously and got everyone interacting and discussing the “good ‘ole days”.

You don’t need to take over a family gathering with questions, dates, and records, but you can make it an enjoyable experience. Make it a game. Use the record feature on your smartphone. Pass it around to each member and ask them to state an event they want to share or a treasured memory about a family member.

You could also do a similar thing with index cards. Pass them around and ask a question that everyone has to answer on the card. Then pass them around again for others to read. There is no one size fits all. Have fun with it and at the same time gather intel.

Ask family members for the recipes of the foods they made for the occasion. Make your own recipe box from these recipes. Write notes on them as to where the recipe originated and what changed as the recipe was passed down. Be sure to write down the date it was given and who you received it from.

With a little creativity, you can enjoy your holiday gathering while building on your family history.

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