Genealogy and Thanksgiving: A truly wonderful combination
One week to Thanksgiving and I am stoked since it is my very favorite holiday of them all!
What better holiday is there for us genealogy loving folks than Thanksgiving?
As far as I am concerned it is ensconced at the very top of the list of holidays. Tradition-filled times of family, friends, and feasting. You just can’t beat it! I say with even if there are far too many greedy corporations trying to force Thanksgiving from our calendars and turn this wonderful day into just another day of Christmas commercial shopping gluttony.
As lovers of genealogy and family history there is much we can bring to the Thanksgiving table (besides a pumpkin pie) and that we can take away (in addition to some leftovers if we are lucky).
The first, and to me, most important thing genealogy fans can bring to the Thanksgiving gathering is the openness and acceptance we naturally bring to our genealogy work. We can work to insure that our holiday, while often focused on longtime family traditions is open to new ideas, new family members, and any differing lifestyles and/or beliefs that may come along with them.
Religion can be a touchy subject, we genealogists must be inclusive and accepting. In our home we always have a Christian and a Jewish blessing said at our tables by family members since we have members of both faiths and especially since we will be without Thanksgivukkah this year. As genealogists, we need to be especially sure that everyone feels comfortable and welcome at our tables whether it is at the ‘adult tables’ or the ‘kids tables’. Which reminds me…what a HUGE event it was when one of us got to graduate up to the adult tables!
Traditions are a huge and highly significant part of Thanksgiving. From the menu and recipes to perhaps football or as in our family a walk between dinner and desserts. Again, however, it is important that we do not become too hidebound in our view of these traditions and not allow any new aspects to enter this holiday. In our family we hold several recipes as sacrosanct, but we also welcome a new dish or two each year to try out and see if they ‘work’. We also have added a family game (focused on family memories, history, and genealogy) and while I admit the first year it was met with a large dose of skepticism, now some years later it is expected, enjoyed, and a ‘must’ part of our holiday.
Technology while not usually associated with Thanksgiving is now a crucial part of our holiday as well. We ride the edge between those who seek to ban technology from the day and those who might overdo. First, we post the access code to our wireless network so anyone can login who joins us. Then we have a ‘feeding station’ for electronics made up of a surge strip loaded with charging cords for as many types of plugs as possible. We assign one iPad to be Skype and/or FaceTime Central and welcome its use. We encourage cameras of every type and relish in the hope that there will be hundreds of photos snapped and videos captured for our memory books and family trees.
Sharing is perfect for Thanksgiving and there may be nothing better for our genealogy and family history. Stories, stories, stories! We love them, we cherish them, and we need to hear and preserve every single one of them! No better time than when we are all around the table, in the kitchen, etc. I roam every corner of our home all day eavesdropping for those stories and I keep a pen and several good, old-fashioned 3”x5” cards in my shirt pocket so I can jot them down and note who said them if I want more depth later on.
Enjoy! Nothing comes close to Thanksgiving with its lack of commercialism, main thrust of being thankful, and its inclusion of friends, family, food, and favorite festivities.
This year, for the first time since 1977 all of my wife’s first cousins will be together and it will be taking place in our home so it is going to be a great holiday in many ways, even if we only will have 18 at our tables this year.
So if you will excuse me now…I have some cleaning and decorating to do!
Onward To Our Past®