Today, I just want to put out a few thoughtful reminders. Thursday is the American Thanksgiving and in a few weeks time we have the holiday season in full speed. This is the time we all strive to be a bit kinder. So this week I'm sharing those kinder, thoughtful ideas. Most people assume quite rightly, that genealogy is history. However, there are a few things about genealogy that are in the present rather than historical. What can be overlooked is that the stories they discover about their relatives are not necessarily the intended path. Our ancestor's lives were the results of choice, chance, and effort. Many times - good or bad - we pass tales down the family line without knowing the full truth of the matter.
So here is the first part I want to talk about. Like our ancestors, the choices we make today will determine how we are remembered. Think about it. Be thoughtful in your words and actions. What will your descendants discover about you? What is your paper trail? Your character? Have you acted in a generous manner? Maybe you are known for your religious conviction? Perhaps an addiction has burdened your family? These are the things your descendants will discover.
Your Choices. Your Chances. Your Effort. This is how you will be remembered and the story will be uncovered after your death. One such example is that actress Christina Applegate, on her episode of "Who do you think you are?" I encourage you to watch the full episodes if you haven't, but here is a clip.
This is just a small sample of what Christina discovered that contradicted what her father was raised to believe. So today, all of us need to be careful in our choices for they don't just impact today - it impacts the future you may not be a part of. My second thing today is to remember to be thoughtful to others. This is an everyday thing but now in the holiday season we tend to be more aware. When you spend time with your family you are living in that moment. But don't just take photos for social media or talk to your relative because you have to. People want to be heard and be a part of your time together. Take the photos and LABEL them! Names, dates, locations! Is there something in the photo with a heartwarming story attached? Say it's great-grandma's favorite vase from Spain - point it out in your label. Is there a rocking chair your mother rocked all seven children in when they were babies? Perhaps, you remember the Christmas dinner that left the huge burn on the table top? Take the time to really consider the stories attached to the focus of the photos in the present, as well as the stories attached to the background. When you sit down to talk to your relatives, really listen! Particularly those of the older generation. Ask them questions about their childhood, their memories. Ask why a family tradition is a tradition. If you are talking to a younger generation of the family, try to learn or relate. Tell them your stories that reflect the similarities of their own. They are more likely to remember them if they link to their own.
Those of you really on the ball can voice record, video record or even keep a notebook handy. If each relative writes down one memory in a notebook, you will not only have many stories to pass down, but you will have the first hand account of the stories. The notebook can grow over the years. Long after little Susie has forgotten the memory she wrote when she was 12 years old her grandchildren can learn about her childhood from her own words. Finally, when you go shopping for your family and friends be thoughtful. Don't just purchase A gift. When you go out to get THE gift of the year. Choose something that will really touch the other person. Choose something that shows the thought you put into it. Not just the cheapest thing, the most promoted or nearest to the checkout. The joy that will fill the room for all will be an amazing feeling. We tend to see the excitement in children opening gifts and not in adults. This season give them something that will truly bring them joy. When you see the smile and happiness you bring to them in your thoughtful choice it will bring you as much joy as they feel. The number of gifts and the monetary value is not the goal. The opportunity to bring another person joy is your goal. Make them something, write them something, or buy them something but remember to make it thoughtful. Of course here I am able to say from experience, genealogy is one of the most amazingly thoughtful gifts. Why? Because everyone has one PERFECTLY, UNIQUELY DESIGNED FOR THEM. It can not be duplicated, it can not be exchanged. Take Jim Parson's remarkable story.
I have met those who have no interest in history until they feel connected. I've also met those who miss out on an amazing story on the other side of their family because of a family dispute. And of course those who find long lost family in the end. Each of these types have enjoyed the experience of their journey and grateful for it. I am not a television series and you may not be a celebrity but we can still find an amazing story. I would love to be able to help you start your family history this holiday season. So I'm offering a holiday gift idea that is sure to impress any recipient.
Email me on Research@RelativeTheoryGenealogy.com to start your journey today!