As the cookies bake and the Christmas Cards arrive, the celebrations that surround the holidays begin. Each of us has special memories unique to our family…traveling to Grandma’s house or decorating the tree or sharing a special meal or a favorite tune with family and friends.
Holidays are a great opportunity to write down what you remember of past celebrations and to ask your family about their memories. Let’s look at ways to trigger those memories.
Here are ideas to help you get started.
Have you noticed that looking pictures in photo albums draws the family around the table? There’s nothing like a picture to trigger memories and stories. Whether those memories are captured in print or on the iPad, pictures are a great way to get the conversation started.
Favorite hymns or fun seasonal songs around the piano might be your family tradition. Or perhaps you have a non-musical family—that’s part of your family story too!
Isn’t it funny how certain smells can trigger memories? Is that why we so distinctly remember Grandma’s ginger cookies or the smell of that Christmas dinner? Do you have a copy of those recipes? Now might be the time to ask. Or take it a step further and learn how to make a family recipe that you can share with your descendants.
We talked about the importance of games in family stories in past blogs. If you’re part of a game board family, ask people to share what they remember. Did Aunt Nel always want the shoe when playing monopoly? Or was Uncle Lou competitive when playing gin rummy? Or perhaps your family spent time outdoors: skating, skiing, building snow people and making snow forts.
Ask your relatives if there were certain traditions that they follow? Did your family attend midnight mass and then open one present afterward? Or were presents only opened on Christmas Day? Or was Christmas Day reserved for visiting Grandma and Grandpa and all the relatives? Did St. Nikolaus visit on December 6th?
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, family traditions are a great addition to your family story. Make the most of your time with family this season to create new memories and capture those of the past.
“May lovely, happy times decorate your holiday season. May warm, special memories brighten your new year. May the wonder of Christmas be with you forever.”
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.