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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time to Make Those Family Get-Togethers Productive!!!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, it is time for you to think like a Family Historian. Figure out your game plan for collecting and sharing your genealogy.

Some ideas for gifts could be: calendars, family history books, videos of your family, a trip back to your heritage (that one sounds like something I want to do), personal journals or family journals, family history quilt, oh, the list can go on and on.

To prepare for some of these gifts, you will need to get organized. First begin by collecting the pictures and information you will need for the gift you wish to make. Remember, time goes by way too fast and your life may get way too busy for too detailed of a project. If you think your project will take a week to do, you are probably wrong. I always plan to do this huge project and as time flies by, I reorganize and take it down a few notches and end up with a far more simple idea.

Most very detailed projects should have been in the works long before now. You can do some simple projects though. Make a Living Journal for your parents/grandparents/children. Put some pretty paper with lined pages and plastic protectors in a loose leaf binder. Put some cute pictures on the outside cover and have some divider pages for categories like - life story, hobbies, school, etc. Make it specific for the person you are giving it to.

Instead of making a whole quilt with family photos, make a pillow or a picture frame. Personalize it by putting your family photo in the middle. Use ancestor photos all along the outside. Use good materials and be neat and careful with your work.

Make an apron for grandpa or grandma using hand prints of the kids. Use your computer to print on transfer paper to be used on material.

Get the kids to help make a fun video of your family. Have each child do some narration.

Have each member of the family write a special something about their grandparent (maybe something they did with them or something they love about them). Put it in a nice book with some family pictures (you can do this online at many photo sites).

So maybe you are not planning to make a family history gift this year but maybe you are planning a family reunion later in the year and want to have something special for that. Now is the time to begin gathering information from all of the relatives. When you have your family dinners and get togethers, bring a recorder or video camera. Take tons of pictures. Ask your family to bring some memorable items with them to the dinner then bring a portable scanner (I just bought one and it is awesome!). Look through photos (be sure to get the names of those in the photos and places and dates are good too). Take down details - names, date, places. Don't be shy...ASK!

Several years ago my mom had Thanksgiving dinner at her house. She had my grandmother (dad's mom) there. I had taken my video camera to take family pictures. At one point I got my grandmother into the living room and started asking her questions. I quickly got the video camera and started asking her to tell me things about her past - her life. Before we knew it, I had her life story on tape (these were the old days of VHS). I was excited to hear these wonderful stories. One story was about the only Christmas present she got as a child (that was something other than useful stuff like clothes or food). She got a locket. Inside the locket was a picture of her mother and one of her sisters.

Three days after Christmas my grandmother was telling her neighbor all about our Christmas together. She started to say something then closed her eyes and was gone. Just like that...just that fast. She was in great health and we had no idea that she would be leaving us at that time but within one instant she was gone. The will stated that mom was given everything inside my grandmother's home and my uncle would get the home (my dad had already passed on). My mom and I went to grandma's home and collected many of her things (she had nothing of real value except for sentimental value). I got a little box that she had on her dresser all of the time I can remember. Inside the pretty box was a little box holding a locket - the very locket that my grandmother had talked about in the video at Thanksgiving. My video became a real treasure to me and how very close I came to not having anything of her. I not only got the locket but the story in her own words telling about that special day that she got the locket.

As you get ready for the holiday festivities, don't forget to take along your camera (and use it), and any other items you may have to help record stories, pictures, family treasures, etc. Be sure to get the stories that go with the items you collect. Remind your family about their heritage by giving gifts from the past or help them to preserve the present for the future by giving gifts that will continue.

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