Make the Most of Your Holiday GatheringAs families and friends gather to celebrate the holidays, genealogists have many opportunities to explore their families' heritage and traditions. It's a great time to teach the next generation the secrets to your family recipes or the meaning behind the special dishes, silverware, or serving pieces you inherited and hope to pass on.
You can share stories as you eat or as you create something delicious using Grandma's mixing bowls. Record your traditions—take photos or videos and write down how you came to be making the traditional foods your family enjoys at the holidays each year.
Make copies of the family recipes to send home with your cousins. Recall the foods you ate at holiday gatherings in the past. What was delicious? What do you wish you could recreate? What foods were awful experiments that you still laugh about today?
Food has always been the center of family gatherings. No matter what your ethnic or religious background is, preparing and serving special dishes for family and guests is universal. What is center stage for your Thanksgiving table?
- Is it turkey? Do you serve it brined, roasted, deep-fried, stuffed, or unstuffed?
- If not turkey, then ham? Prime rib? Goose or duck? Turducken or tofurkey?
- What accompanies the main course? Stuffing (or dressing), mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, or sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pineapple?
- What about cranberries . . . jellied from a can or homemade with orange and pecans? Or does your family just not like them at all?
- Many a table is graced with that old standby green bean casserole this week. Is yours? Perhaps you prefer different veggies like Brussels sprouts or broccoli?
- What's the grand finale to the meal? Pumpkin, sweet potato, or apple pie? Something with nuts or filled with chocolate?
Are there activities you look forward to each Thanksgiving? Maybe your family plays board games, watches television, or goes to the park to play touch football. Some families put up their Christmas tree or sing around a piano or guitar. Maybe you like to watch a marathon of holiday movies. Whatever it is your family does each year, be sure to record those memories too.
Finally, whether your traditions are completely different from those mentioned above or waiting to be newly created, Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for the bounty of the harvest and the warmth of family and friends. If you are surrounded by people you care about, all that matters is the enjoyment of good company and the feast you or your hosts have prepared.
Whether you journal, blog, scrapbook, write stories, or take photos, your family will thank you for preserving the memories of what makes your Thanksgiving special. And all of us at St. Louis Genealogical Society hope you have the happiest of holidays!