Family history/genealogy appears to be a very popular hobby, not just in America but throughout much of the world. There is much debate as to where it ranks in the list of most popular hobbies, but there is no doubt that family history is hugely popular and becoming even more so each year.
October has been officially listed as Family History Month within the US. It is a time to remember our roots and celebrate our unique histories and identities. It also happens to be the month that we celebrate several specific heritage days (German-American month, Italian Heritage month, Polish American Heritage month, etc.)
To celebrate this month, there are a number of easy and enjoyable activities that you can be a part of. Below I’ve listed several activities that you can start doing to keep in the spirit of Family History Month.
- Start researching your family tree—Starting your own family tree is a lot easier than you might think. Start by talking to your parents and other family members. What they tell you can provide you with some great clues to where to start looking for information.There are some great online genealogy sites to help you get started. These sites all provide excellent guides and easy to follow helps to get you started. Visit www.familysearch.org, (free) Ancestory.com ($), MyHeritage.com (free), and many other genealogy websites to take the first steps to get started.
- Record some of your parents’ memories of their younger years—You think you know your parents until they start talking about things that happened before you were born or things that they never spoke to you about when you were a child. One day your parents will be gone and you will not be able to go to them to get their advice. Why don’t you do it now and have it preserved so that you can enjoy and their posterity for generations to come can benefit. Not sure what questions to ask? Visit the FamilySearch.org Wiki and see hundreds of thought provoking questions.
- Post your photographs on the internet for others to enjoy—Many of the online genealogy websites mentioned above provide a safe place to store and share family photographs. You can also add stories with your photographs. Now, when kids have to do a family history report for their school project, it will be as simply as logging on to a family history website and downloading some pictures, a story or two and some historical facts. It just doesn’t get any easier than that.
- Begin writing down some of your own life stories—Most people think that writing a personal history is such a huge task that they never get around to writing it. But if you break it down to answering just one question a week, it’s amazingly fast and simple a personal history comes together. I would give almost anything to have had even just one of my ancestors write down some of his/her thoughts and have them to read today. What a priceless legacy to leave to your posterity.
- Record the voices of your young children or grandchildren and keep them to listen to when they are older—We all love how adorable our kids and grandkids sound when they are young and their high angelic voices say the cutest things. But before you know it, those kids grow up and those sweet voices fade away and are forgotten. Take an hour or two one evening and spend some fun family time recording your kids sharing stories with you and singing their favorite songs. It’s quick and inexpensive and will be a treasure forever.
- Visit a cemetery and take pictures of family tombstones—This not as gruesome as you might first think and it’s very easy to do this from the comfort of your home. With internet sites like BillionGraves.com and FindAGrave.com, it’s amazingly easy to find an ancestor’s tombstone. Both of these sites have millions of pictures of tombstones from cemeteries throughout the world. Try it. may be surprised at how easy it is.
- Call a relative you haven’t heard from in a long time and reestablish those family connections—Most calling plans allow you to call anywhere in the United States and talk as long as you want for no additional cost. So, you can’t use the excuse that it’s too expensive to call Aunt Fern in Sheboygan. Take a minute and think about a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while and give them a jingle. It’s time to renew those bonds with that cousin or aunt you haven’t heard from for so long. It’s time to catch up with what’s happening with them.
- Cook a family favorite dish and invite family or friends over to enjoy it with you—Every family has a dish that has been handed down for generations. Why not cook a family dish each week during this month and explain to your kids where it came from. You say you don’t have any family dishes that were passed down? Well, create some, write down the recipe and tell your kids that you are starting a tradition that you want them to pass down to their kids.
The possibilities of activities are endless. Enjoy your family heritage and teach it to your children and grandchildren. After all, it’s Family History Month!