Genealogy: How do you imbue Thanksgiving with your heritage?
If you follow me here at all you most likely know my favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving. No doubt about it. Thanksgiving in our home is Numero Uno, Top Dog, the Cat’s Pajamas, the Day-of-Days, etc.
I love Thanksgiving since, to me, it is the last, great non-commercial holiday. Christmas has been overrun by commercialism and shopping. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, while greatly overshadowed these days by Christmas consumer gluttony, is still focused on family, friends, food, and being together and thankful.
Due to my love of Thanksgiving our home becomes family central for this wonderful holiday. If you are family, you are welcome. Come one, come all! We won’t only ‘leave a light on for you’ we will set a place for you at the table and welcome you with open arms.
This year our early count is a robust 30! Should be a grand time and while we hold to the traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, and more sides than you can shake a drumstick at, I also do my best to be certain to imbue our Thanksgiving with very purposeful acknowledgements to the heritage of those who came before us and brought us forth. To me, our ancestry, is one of the most important aspects of our lives that we need to be thankful for and therefore we need to be sure to show it and share it at our feast.
So how do I do it? I keep it simple; I keep it obvious; and just in case anyone misses any of it, I tell everyone about them! Let me give you a few real life examples:
• Each year I make a side dish, or two, that were specifically handed down in my family for holiday meals. They don’t compete for the main dish, but they were there, I explain why, and I feel wonderful having them on our table. Two years ago I added a sliced cucumber dish my Cornish grandmother always made.
• Each year I add something to our table in the way of a decoration from some part of our family heritage. Last year we had a piece of Murano glass from Italy as a tip o’ the hat to my wife’s Italian ancestry. This year I have added new champagne (or in the case of many of our guest prosecco) glasses made of Bohemian Crystal in a nod to my maternal family’s Bohemian roots.
• Each year I create a game focused on family history, family memories, etc. and everyone has a tremendously fun time with it. I am always sure to gather the responses from everyone and type them up for distribution and attachment to our online family tree.
• This year we have a larger than usual number of younger family members so I sought out and purchased a copy of a book of traditional fairy tales from two very famous Czech authors of old. I recognized some of the stories from my grandmother telling them to me, so I want to pass them along to all the youngsters who will be with us and a book reading is a great way to do it.
So there you have it. Simple, open, fun, and enduring. I can only hope my children and our grandchildren take it to heart and keep it going long after I am gone.
Onward To Our Past®