This Thanksgiving, after everyone has caught up on the latest family doings, why not turn the conversation around to family history?
If you will be dining with older family members, now is the time to ask them about their lives. Have a few open-ended questions ready to start the conversation and be ready to listen. You might also ask if you can take notes or record their memories so you will get everything down they way they say it.
Sometimes pictures will start the memories flowing when questions don’t get a response. Bring a few photos, if you have them, of ancestors or of your relatives when they were younger. Ask about who is in the photo, where it was taken, or what was going on. The picture to the left might look like an average family portrait, but after talking with relatives I learned that it was taken in 1942 before Gilbert, in the middle back row, joined the Marines in World War II. Implicit in taking the photo was the thought, this might be the last time our family is together. Now the picture has deep meaning.
If you are among the older generation at the table, prepare a story or two for your family that will pique their interest. Do you have a renegade ancestor, or one who made headlines? Again, bring pictures to the conversation to bring these people to life.
Hopefully, this Thanksgiving you will either spark some interest in your family’s history among the younger generations or preserve some knowledge of the past. And don’t forget to take a family photo!