3 Ways to Save Holiday Family History

Thanksgiving usually means turkey and all the trimmings. I’d like you to think about what else the holiday represents. Family and friends. Holidays are great times to collect family history.

At our house the dinner chatter usually turns to family history. Food starts that path to reminiscence. My aunt loved parsnips and pearl onions on her table. We haven’t had those foods since she left us way back in 1981. While her food isn’t part of the festivities, our memories of her are.

It’s time to collect those tales.

Here are a few ideas on how to turn Thanksgiving dessert into another kind of sweet. Here are three suggestions for saving the family history of this holiday.

Talk to a High School Student

Do you know about StoryCorps? Founded by award-winning radio producer Dave Isay, it began several years ago. Isay built a booth in Grand Central Terminal in New York with the goal to interview passersby. The motto of the StoryCorps is “Listening is An Act of Love.” You can listen to those stories today on their website.

On Turkey Day, the group heads up a project called The Great Thanksgiving Listen.  It’s an education project for high school students and their teachers.  The students record interviews.  They then get donated to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

All you need is the StoryCorps App.  It’s free.  If you know a high school student they can register online.

Picture Perfect Suggestions

  • Bring copies of your unidentified photos to dinner. Leave the originals at home so you don’t have to worry about dirty hands and gravy stains.  Photo copies or a digital album are the way to go.
  • Download a recording app to your phone, tablet or computer. It’ll make it easy to record their conversation about the photos. There are plenty of choices.  Most phones come with a recorder built in.
  • Take pictures.  Document the day so that future generations can see what dishes made the menu (and who came for dinner).

Food History for the Future

Unfortunately, my husband’s grandmother took her beloved chutney recipe to her grave.  We all miss it.  No amount of trial and error can duplicate her efforts.

It’s almost the gift giving holidays.  You still have time to put together a family cookbook.  One you can share for generations.

There are three things you can do:

  • Collect recipes from family members
  • Record video of the person making their favorite dish
  • Document remembrances of family favorites from the past.

This Thanksgiving take a moment or two to be the ancestor your descendants will thank. The one who saved the family history of your generation.

You can download my free tips on capturing your Holiday Traditions as a full-color infographic. 

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