It is possible to survive the holiday season, with sanity intact, by planning ahead and developing a sense of humor. Unexpected visits by relatives and cranky cousins add to your stress levels, but try to offset the tension with a little family history. Don’t put your charts and notes away for the holidays take them out and show it off. This is a great time of year to be mindful of family history.
Serve up a Helping of Photos
If you’re overwhelmed by relatives wanting to know “what’s for dinner” and “when will it be ready” then redirect their attention. Keep them busy.
- Pick out your family photo mysteries and put copies in a scrapbook with a blank facing page for comments. Leave a pen attached to the book and ask for each person to write something about the picture such as the details they see or who it might be.
- Make sure they sign their name beside their remarks. They might see something you’ve overlooked. That cantankerous relative could turn into your personal genealogical gift giver when he identifies a photo of your second great grandfather.
- Encourage relatives to bring their own mystery photos in a similar scrapbook. Leave the originals at home. This activity is for copies only. You wouldn’t want a dot of gravy in the middle of a priceless heirloom.
Get Them Talking
Oversize nineteenth century pedigree charts often came equipped with a bar across the top so the owner could show off their lineage by putting it on display.
- Purchase an oversize chart, fill it in (as much as possible) and pin it up in a prominent spot. Family members are sure to gather ‘round it talking about the folks you’ve mentioned. Want a tree worth framing. Check out the offerings by FamilyChartmasters.com. They can tackle even large family trees.
- Get the teenager in your house (or another interested family member) to tape record the stories of childhood escapades, memories of favorite foods and past holidays. These sounds will mix together for a piece of oral memorabilia worth keeping.
These activities will keep those restless relatives busy until dinners served leaving you with some quiet time in the kitchen. It’s a long holiday season; so keep the chart, scrapbook and camera handy for the next gathering. You’re sure to generate some genealogical cheer.