Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanks for the Memories: Thanksgiving

Woman Cooking from the US National Archives.
As genealogists our concentration is rightly focused on the lives of our ancestors. While that should be the majority of our focus at some point it's a good idea to consider what our descendants will remember about us or even know about us. As we approach Thanksgiving I have been asking people that I know how is Thanksgiving different now from when you were a child?

Obviously, the people you gather to eat with now might be different. Where you eat the food might be different. One of the things I have been interested in is how is the food different?

One of the dishes we had when I was younger was mincemeat pie. This was one of the many pies that my great-grandmother made. I previously wrote about some of my thoughts about mincemeat in a blog post here. Suffice it to say pumpkin pie was my favorite and so I was not interested in there being any other pies. Eventually as people in my family weren't as interested in mincemeat pie and as my great-grandmother was unable to help with the cooking, that pie eventually disappeared from our Thanksgiving table. I will say now as an adult, I'm sorry I never tried a piece of my great-grandmother's mincemeat pie.

So as you start reflecting on Thanksgiving, think about recording some of your Thanksgiving memories that can be shared with family. These questions/answers can be included in a family cookbook, in a Christmas letter, in your genealogical database or even on your blog. These questions are going to be different depending on what years you are reflecting on. For me, Thanksgiving is different if I'm thinking of it from when I was in elementary school, later as  a high school student  and then as I have a family of my own.

Some questions to consider include:

  • Where did you spend Thanksgiving each year?
  • Who prepared Thanksgiving?
  • Who attended Thanksgiving? (names of family and friends)
  • Did you have any traditions that went along with Thanksgiving? (playing football, putting up Christmas lights, watching TV, saying a special prayer, etc).
  • What was your favorite Thanksgiving food?
  • What was the Thanksgiving menu? (include recipes of dishes)
  • Did you ever have a Thanksgiving disaster? (kitchen caught on fire, plumbing backed up, dog ate meal).
  • How was Thanksgiving different when you were a child (different food, different traditions).
  • What decorations were used for Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving!