Combine nostalgia, holiday traditions, grandma’s pumpkin pie and immediate access to a bunch of relatives, and what do you get?
An atmosphere ripe for talking about family history.
Thanksgiving is a good time to tell and listen to stories, get IDs for mystery faces in photos, and share your genealogy discoveries. It doesn’t have to be weird or forced—don’t announce “Time to talk about genealogy!” just as everyone’s settling in to watch football.
Here are a few easy, unobtrusive ways to start family history discussions.
- Identify the “connector” at the gathering—the relative who knows everyone and starts conversations. Get this person curious about your research by sharing a genealogy discovery or a photo related to his or her ancestor.
- Show off a photo of an ancestor who looks remarkably like a relative who’ll be there.
- Over dinner, ask about family recipes, for example, “Where did Grandma learn to make pie like this?”
- Bring up a Thanksgiving from your childhood: “Remember the time Aunt June used salt instead of sugar in the sweet potatoes?”
- Mention changes to an old family home you drove past recently—maybe it’s on the market, or someone built an addition.
- You probably have at least one relative who’s interested in your research. Arrange to show that person some genealogy records at the Thanksgiving gathering, and you may arouse others’ curiosity (but be prepared for people to ask for copies).
- If your child or grandchild is working on a family history project for school or scouts, let him bring his blank ancestor chart and ask relatives for help filling it in.
More resources from Family Tree Magazine:
- 20 questions for interviewing relatives (free article)
- 13 Tips for oral history interviewing (free article)
- Using photos to generate stories (free article)
- Oral Support: key steps for planning, executing and preserving oral history interviews (Family Tree Magazine Plus article)
- Getting the Word: How to focus on why, how and what instead of who, when and where (Family Tree Magazine Plus article)