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Thanksgiving Family History Opportunities

Originally published 17 Nov 2013

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is less than two weeks away. The annual family get together can be a fantastic opportunity to reminisce with and about our loved ones. Most of us aren't famous, but we all have had unique experiences worthy of remembering and passing along. My father-in-law has an incredible skill for telling interesting and funny stories about his experiences, but I confess to forgetting key parts of the stories when I hear them at another time. The key is to capture the stories in writing (or with technology) while they're still fresh in our memories.

Before my mother passed away, I asked her to go through her 1950s era family photograph album to identify people in the pictures and tell me stories she remembered about them. Later, I used a video application to create a DVD photo album with her narration. That year, the recordings were Christmas presents for my brothers. I also ordered flip books of the photos to accompany the DVDs.

Initially, my mother was hesitant and shy about the video recorder, (even though she was beautiful, she didn't think she was) but she gradually forgot about the camera and became excited as she remembered people and places. I think she genuinely enjoyed the experience and I am immensely thankful to her for agreeing to review the album with me. Since that time, I've been able to connect with cousins in the U.S. and even Sweden. She gave me a true, profound gift that I will never forget.

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