Say the word September and people would immediately think of summer ending and children going back to school. For many parents, it means their children leaving the “nest” and attending college. You can expect a lot of changes during September but then, they all return home weeks after for Thanksgiving.
The holidays are times when families usually get together. This is the reason most movie scenes about family reunions are set on either Thanksgiving or Christmas. They effectively portray what normally happens when families gather together for the holidays.
For those of you who just love bunching up the family and find fulfillment in planning activities during the holidays, read on for here are 10 family history activities you can do during your holiday family reunion. These are not mere games to keep everyone busy. Rather, they reflect on your family tradition and allow you to focus on your ancestors, your genealogy and your relationships with each other.
1. Coordinate the Colors
Assign colors to the different branches of the family. So, the color of the clothes they wear will be according to whose child they are; ask Uncle Donald’s family to wear red and Aunt Hilary’s family to wear green at the reunion, for instance.
2. Reminisce with Pictures
Encourage everyone to bring along their photo albums to the family reunion. You can exchange photo albums during lull moments, such as while you wait for the turkey to finish baking or for the food to be served. This is a wonderful way to share memories with relatives.
3. Family Trivia
Make a list of guests who confirmed their attendance to the family reunion. Next, prepare questions about these people. The idea is to get everyone involved and give them opportunity to know more about each other. Give each guest a list of questions they need to answer, questions such as: Where was Grandpa Bill born? Which uncle has a twin sister? When is Little Betty’s birthday? If these people are present, the other members can approach them and ask the questions directly.
4. Family Tree
Creating a family tree is an activity that is most beneficial to the younger family members. Ask everyone to draw the family tree starting from the oldest known relative. Whoever submits the most accurate and complete family tree wins a prize. Then present the winning family tree to everyone so they get to be more familiar with your lineage.
5. Recipe Swap
If yours is one of those families who love to cook, have your guests bring their own recipes for swapping with the other members of the family. Take it a step further; if you have a writer or an editor in the family, have him or her compile all these recipes into a family cookbook, publish it and give each family member a copy.
6. Share Stories
Young or old, everyone enjoys a good story. This is best done after dinner when everybody feels full and would rather lounge and take it easy. Gather everybody in one room and take turns telling stories about the present (e.g., what they are doing now and their plans for the future.) and the past (e.g., stories from their youth or when their parents and siblings were younger). This way, relatives get to know more about each other. It would be ideal to take a video of this session so you have something to view whenever you feel nostalgic.
7. Nostalgic Road Trip
Why not have the Thanksgiving dinner at or near your ancestral home? Doing so is a very good opportunity to invite everyone on a field trip and show the younger family members the local places that are significant to your family. For instance, stop by the hospital where you and your siblings were born. Visit old schools and other favorite hang-out places in your youth.
They say that there is always a performer in every family. Convince the thespians in the family to produce a play that re-enacts funny or monumental episodes from your family history.
9. Video Coverage
Take advantage of the fact that you are all together. Request someone to man the video cam and record the family members as they talk about their thoughts about the family. Ask quirky questions such as, "In case you get marooned in an island, who is the last person from the family you would want to be with?" This is the type of question that is sure to elicit mirth and laughter.
10. Display Memorabilia
Gather all your family memorabilia -- watches, jewelries, accessories and other items that had been passed down from previous generations. Display them prominently on a table and if you want to simulate a museum set-up, prepare laminated label cards narrating the history of each item.
These activities were designed to help you and the entire family re-connect with your past and reinforce the ties that bind you together. Families are forever and during tough times, people seek their families.