You undoubtedly have noticed that there is a definite chill in the air, the leaves are turning colors on the trees and there is frost on the pumpkins in the morning. Fall has arrived. When I think of fall, I think of Family History Month. October has been proclaimed as Family History Month again this year by the Congress of the United States. If you would like to join in the celebration, here are five ways to participate.
Attend a genealogy lecture or event. The Broomfield Genealogy Society will be celebrating with a special speaker, Sybil Downing, at their meeting on October 21st. Sybil is a fourth-generation Coloradan, an award winning author and her monthly reviews of regional fiction appear in The Denver Post. Both events are free and open to the public.
Label and record family heirlooms. I have begun to label family heirlooms so that my children know an heirloom from all the other junk I have in my house. Some of these items go back several generations and I would hate to see them thrown in the trash after I am gone. Even though I often point them out to my children and grandchild while telling the stories, I recognize the vacant stares I receive from them. They are not too interested right now, maybe they are too young. But one day they will cherish each of these items as I do.
As I label each piece, I am also keeping a notebook with a photo of the object, recording who it belonged to, how it has been handed down and the stories that are associated with the object. Most of these objects are probably not valuable in terms of money, but they are priceless to our family.
Make a family heirloom. Scrapbooking has become very popular these days. Making a scrapbook of a special event is a good example of something that could be passed down to your descendants. If someone dear to you has died in the last couple of years, gather everything you have about that person such as certificates, photos, and mementoes. Make a scrapbook of their life. Include other family member’s memories so that they can participate in creating the scrapbook as well.
If there are weddings or babies expected in the coming year, make a handmade quilt, blanket or wall hanging. They are all things that will be treasured by the recipients in the years to come.
Share your family knowledge and photos. Now would be a good time to start that book you want to write on your family. Or, if not a book, then simply contact other family members and offer to share the information you have collected. Many of us family historians have stacks of files and boxes of photos. Don’t hoard these treasures by hiding them in your files. Bring them out into the light by sharing them. I speak from experience when I say that when family history is shared, you will receive back ten times what you gave.
Volunteer. Share your knowledge with others who are interested in learning more about their families. Volunteering at the library, National Archives and the Family History Centers are all examples of places where volunteers are needed. Genealogy societies are all managed by volunteers and they are always in need of more volunteers.
If none of these suggestions sound right for you, celebrate Family History Month by spending some quality time with your family. Take the kids to the zoo, visit an elderly relative, or call a loved one you haven’t spoken to in awhile. The important word in Family History Month is “family.”