Thanksgiving is here, and its arrival often finds us spending time with family near and far. As we express gratitude to those we love, we may also have opportunities to capture a slice of our family history and traditions. Here are a few fun tips to make the most of your family time this week.
As family members reminisce about days past or the dearly departed, don’t miss the opportunity to capture the stories! Capturing the story can be as simple as jotting down a few notes to help you remember the details once you are home or the company has left, so you can write out a fuller story.
Or you can go “high tech” with recording stories, especially if you have children or grandchildren who can assist (or who might need something to keep them busy). Saving Memories Forever is a website where you can record and share stories with your family; it also provides free smartphone apps for iPhone and Android for seamless recording and uploading. Play a fun game of “pass the phone” where each person present takes turns answering a story prompt or telling their own stories in their own words. If you plan on having phone calls with out-of-town relatives, you can even place the phone on speakerphone and record the person’s voice with a tape or digital voice recorder. Whatever method you choose, capture the stories now before they slip away.
Share Photos or Recipes
Did granny have a delicious pecan pie recipe that she made every Thanksgiving? Better yet, do you have a photo of granny in the kitchen making her prized pie? There’s no better sensory way to relive family memories than through photos and good food!
Consider asking each family member to bring his or her favorite holiday recipe, which can be used as the start of a family cookbook. And don’t forget to take pictures of the food if one of the featured recipes will be on the Thanksgiving table! After dinner, why not pass around old photo albums (and a heavy dose of coffee for those who ate too much turkey)? Like the strings on granny’s old apron, family food traditions are our ties to the past.
Pass on Traditions to the Next Generation
Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition that you hope your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews will continue to follow? Does the day revolve around the food, football game or other fun activity? Does the family participate in a service project such as working to deliver meals to the less fortunate? Is Thanksgiving the day you put out the Christmas decorations or make your list for black Friday shopping? Whatever your family tradition may be, it is important to reinforce why the customs are meaningful or where they originated so the next generation will have a feeling of connectedness to the the family past and present. And if you don’t have a set family tradition, consider making one around storytelling or family history–and get the whole family involved!
I hope these suggestions help to make your Thanksgiving season unforgettable. Please feel free to contact me for more ideas, or to let me know if you added a fun, family-history tradition this year that could be shared with others.