In Your Own Words

In Your Own Words

The holidays are a great time to talk about your family's history. Here are some questions to ask your relatives about their holiday memories.

As you’re gathering family stories from loved ones, don’t forget to record your own memories. Ask—and answer—these questions, adapted from My Life & Times:

Childhood Holiday Memories

  • How did your family celebrate your birthday when you were young? Were there parties? Who came? What were your favorite gifts? Was your birthday ever a disappointment?
  • How did your family (or your parents, if you weren’t invited) celebrate the New Year when you were a child? Write about the first time you recall staying up until midnight.
  • What holidays or traditions did your family observe during the spring?
  • What are your memories of national or patriotic celebrations. Where did you celebrate, how and with whom?
  • How did your family celebrate Halloween? Tell about any favorite costumes, parties, decorations, food, where you trick-or-treated, haunted house tours, etc.
  • How did you celebrate Thanksgiving or other fall celebrations? Where did you gather? Who cooked? Think about the tastes, smells and other sensory memories.
  • What winter holidays did your family celebrate? Write about a typical holiday observance: describe decorations, music, food, gift-giving, religious rituals and family traditions.
  • What other holidays did your family observe? Describe your traditions.

Grown-Up Holiday Memories

  • What holiday traditions you have continued to celebrate as an adult? Why have you kept them up?
  • What new traditions have you created? Who participates? What do these traditions mean to you?
  • How do you celebrate birthdays with your loved ones now?
  • What holiday food traditions have you created or passed on? Think about special foods or recipes, and who does the cooking or baking.

From the January 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine

More great genealogy resources from Family Tree Magazine:

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