6 easy ways to spend time on family history during the holidays
The appearance of madness has begun. It’s easy to get sucked into the craziness around the holidays, cooking, cleaning, shopping (oh yeah, that’s started too!), But amid all the hectic general work and for some, the sense of impending doom They realize that they cannot afford the huge amount they planned, it is an opportunity. With the whole family in town, it’s the perfect time to extend your family history project, start a new project, a family genealogy, or an oral history. Here are some simple ideas on how you can set aside time during the holidays to work on your family history project:
1. If you have already started a project and have family close by, it is a great idea to check some data, find out what your relatives know, they might be interested in some of your findings. But don’t overdo it. It is important to understand the limits, not everyone is a family historian and for good reason, although it can be difficult for those of us who are a little obsessed with seeing sometimes, not everyone digs into history.
2. Do you have less interested relatives? Excellent. You can use this as an opportunity to find out what would interest them. As a researcher, it has been my experience that most people have a general appreciation for genealogy, if not anything other than an “oh, that’s not nice.” However, approach the subject delicately. The fact is, if you are doing your own research or paying someone to do it for you, you are investing in something that you hope will be passed down and cherished for generations. For this reason, discovering what non-genealogists are interested in reading can be invaluable in ensuring that your story is appreciated long after your time. Would you be more interested in a DVD with photos and interviews with family members? Would you be interested in shorter, more complete stories from each family in book format? They might be interested if it were compiled on a website where they could easily locate specific bits of information. (Are you concerned about monthly hosting fees and security? This information could be stored in a similar format on a DVD-R or CD-R.) Maybe they’re tech savvy and prefer an audio book format or a deck of trivia cards to pull out on vacation. If you find it difficult to start a conversation, perhaps you could try one or more of these options and see which is the most successful, and then continue to further tailor your research to one of these formats.
3. So what if you haven’t started a family history project yet? Maybe you’ve just been thinking about getting started, but in all the frenzy you always think ‘maybe later’. Well listen, because today is the day! Honestly, there is no better time to start the conversation. Ask family members what they know, does mom remember spending Thanksgiving eating on the kitchen floor at Great Aunt June’s house with her horrible rowdy cousin, Tommy? Write it! That is a great place to start. The holidays, for all its stress and problems, have a way of bringing back the brightest and most deeply sown memories. Perhaps you could create a notebook in which each guest can jot down a vacation memory. Not only will it provide you with fantastic ideas on where to start researching if you’re compiling a genealogy, but it will also make a great keepsake on its own. Someday, these fabulous stories will disappear. There is no time like the present to make sure they don’t.
4. Perhaps you have been considering Oral History as something you would like to explore when documenting your family history, or perhaps you have never heard of it. Either way, it is an invaluable resource when it comes to documenting the past. I really see genealogy and oral history as two sides of a coin. Of course, there are downsides to oral history, people’s memory of an event cannot always be trusted to be feasible, however, when discernment is used and taken into consideration, the rich history you can retrieve from Words from a family member can be invaluable and one of the most valuable resources available. The hardest part of this for most people is opening the dialogue. There are fun ways to do this, and the most unique results can be achieved with relaxed conversation. Try conversation starter cards, perhaps on the back of individual cards or on the bottom of paper cups or plates. Don’t forget to turn on a tape recorder (and let your guests know what you are doing so you don’t catch anyone off guard)!
5. Another alternative is to hire a professional while on vacation. Even though it’s busy, it may be the best time to get interviews from a variety of people, while everyone is in town. Just as you would turn to a genealogist to research your family lineage, you can turn to a personal historian to record histories of living relatives.
6. Even if you are not lucky enough to have your extended family with you on vacation, take the time to include a note on your greeting cards, even if they are not interested in participating, most people enjoy that ask them for help. especially if they can give you information about their lives or the lives of people who are important to them. Also remember that the telephone is a valuable tool, especially if you are still using an answering machine that tapes, you can take the time to ask questions and record the conversation and your stories in your own words.
Whatever you do, enjoy the holidays, take the time to create new memories and enjoy the old ones. Make sure you are not engaging in half-hearted or ulterior motive conversations, but are genuinely interested in what your family members have to offer. Whether you’re compiling a cookbook, genealogy, story, or recording, take advantage of the holidays to get the most out of your family history research.