'Tis the holiday season and in the coming days all over the globe families will reunite for a meal, a party, a church service, some laughs, or more.
Often we are so caught up in "getting ready for the holidays" that we for get to enjoy the very events for which we've been preparing. I'm not going to ask you to slow down and take everything in. Rather, I'm going to ask you to put one more thing on your holiday to-do list: gather a little family history.
Now I can hear many of you saying "I don't do genealogy. That's __ (insert name of crazy relative here)__'s job!" But this task is for the non-genealogists in the crowd. It's not even a task, more like a favor to me.
Here are three ways I'm asking the Genealogy-is-Boring crowd to help me out this year:
1. Pull out the old pictures and get everyone identified. Aften dinner is served and everyone is borderline comatose at the table, pull out the boxes and photo albums. Pass them around and take notes. You recognize grandma in her 1940s prom dress, but who is that handsome young man that's not grandpa in the photo? Who are those kids in the 1970s beach photo? As time slips by, all those people you used to know get forgotten. While your family is together, crowd source their knowledge to identify people, places and things. I bet you even get some good stories you've never heard.
2. Spend some time actually talking to your family. I know it's hard to believe, but there really was a time when people had to look at each other because we didn't have phones yet. Can you believe that? One of my favorite things to do is ask my grandma questions about her youth. Sometmes it's a challenge to get stories out of her, so I'll wait until she's had a glass of champagne or two. Hey, you have to seize the opportunity when it's given to you. Ask your--ahem--- "older" family members to tell stories of their youth so your younger famly members can see it really was possible to live without the Internet and we did fine.
3. Gather the recipes. If you're going to grandma's house, your parents' house, or any other family member, make a list of the "family" recipes you love so much. Write down the ones you have in front of you and make plans to get the others asap. This tip is brought to you by The Girl Who Wishes She Had Her Deceased Grandfather's Candy Recipes (aka me).
You may think family history is boring, and that's ok. But at some point, you're going to have questions, foggy memories, a longing to taste grandma's cake again, and the people that have those answers will be gone.
So take it from me, you don't have to *do* family history, but this holiday season, do these simple things so you don't lose what you already have.
Amy Lenertz, MLIS is the founder of Raincross Information Services.