Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to share your family history with your family.--Events

Another in the Sharing Your Family History Series. There are lots of ideas out there for sharing your family history with your family by having some kind of event. These can be a one time thing, or you could set aside a regular and recurring time, like the first Monday of the month or something. The idea here is to gather the family members and do something together to celebrate the life of an ancestor.

Any of the following ideas will work for a family event:

Guess who’s coming to dinner.
I know several people who have hosted a dinner like this. You can enjoy the culture of that ancestor for dinner, food/music/decorations. Of course use any pictures or heirlooms, etc belonging to that person. You might try it as a surprise--form questions about the person and have family members guess who the dinner is about. Then tell stories about that person during dinner. Or you might do some activity after dinner that the person enjoyed.

A question a week about your family history.
A scaled down version of "guess who is coming to dinner" is to try to infuse family history in to life a little more regularly with a short interest grabber. You might try this at a regular time such as dinnertime, or every once in a while in an e-mail if your family is more spread out. Ask a question (you could even have a small prize for the winner--like exemption from the dishes) And then of course--follow with a story.

Celebrate an Ancestor’s Birthday.
Along the lines of "guess who is coming to dinner" is to celebrate the person's birthday. This could be as elaborate as you want to make it, or it could just be stories and cake. Again, for the birthday you might go someplace or do something they liked to do. My Mother-In-Law's birthday was April 15th. I think this coming spring, we will try to get our taxes done early, and instead of worrying about that, take our kids out to dinner to celebrate her life and tell them about the Grandmother they unfortunately don't remember. A much better way to spend the evening of April 15th, don't you think?

Culture Night
If your family stayed in a single area for a long time, or you want to do something that includes a branch of the family, rather than just one ancestor, you could try a culture night. Similar to the above, you could celebrate a holiday or time period with food and activities that they might have done. (German Christmas in July, England in World War II.) Skits of a story or a person can also get everyone involved.

Many of these ideas work great for Family Reunions, or can become a sort of family reunion in and of itself. They can be a bit more work, but the payoff can be great. Let me know if you try it.

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