TBT Lesson #66

In June of 2007 we gathered to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary. My brother, sister and I along with our spouses planned a weekend of fun, games, food and best of all storytelling. We’re a family that appreciates a good story, even if it evolves every time it’s shared.

Fortunately, eleven of fourteen grandchildren were able to get together that weekend, no easy task with teens and young adults. Of course that meant posing for lots of group pictures.

A lot has happened since this cousin picture was taken:

5 high school graduations

6 college graduations

4 weddings

No more elementary or middle school students. All are in high school, college or have graduated to the world of work. How fast they grow up!


TBT Lesson #66: While posing for pictures is no fun, smile and be patient. You’ll appreciate the photo and the memories in a few short years.

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Family


Due, in part, to the ability to use the Internet to research information about our ancestors, it’s estimated that more than 80 million Americans are attempting to learn more about their family history. Americans are writing their family stories by collecting personal documents and preserving memorabilia as they share genealogies with new found relatives.

October is Family History Month so why not try one or more of these fun activities to celebrate your family and heritage.

1. Create a family cookbook.

This is something we did a few years ago. We gathered family recipes and then wrote stories to accompany each one, recalling a special time we ate a particular food. An easy way to do this would be to add one or two special recipes each year to create a recipe box of family specialties. (And don’t forget to share it with other family members.)

2. Organize and do something with family photos.

Instead of leaving all those pictures in a shoebox. Digitize them and store on a disc, removable drive, or an online cloud. Don’t forget to include names of those pictured, dates, and any other known information so they can be shared. (Don’t get rid of the actual prints, but organize them as well. You shouldn’t feel guilty about getting rid of duplicates or blurry photos.)

3. Share family stories.

Write down a family story or make a list of special memories that you’d like to share. Make a point to share a story at Thanksgiving or another family gathering.

4. Visit the cemetery.

Locate and take pictures of family tombstones of some of your ancestors or make a plan for a road trip to a cemetery to visit a family grave site.

5. Document your family heirlooms.

Take a picture and write the story of a piece of jewelry or furniture or some other item that’s been passed down. Include who it is from and why it is important.

6. Interview a family member.

Maybe the word interview is too formal, but make a point to ask a family member to tell you about an event in his or her life that you know little about. I remember Sarah interviewing her great-grandmother one summer and finding out information about her mother, a mid-wife, learning something new about the family.

7. Make a calendar with family birthdays and anniversaries.

One year we received a personalized family calendar as a Christmas gift. It served as a wonderful reminder of the special days of aunts, uncles, and cousins and resulted in many more birthday wishes.

8. Get a family photo taken.

We haven’t taken a photo of the extended family since 2007 when we gathered to celebrate my parents’ 50th Anniversary. It’s time for another family photo!

9. Make a scrapbook of family history.

Digitizing photos and keeping electronic records are great, but writing your family story including pictures in the form of a book can’t be replaced. There’s something special about being able to hold a scrapbook and flip through the pages. Seeing captions or stories written in ink instead of printed out adds another special dimension.

10. Reconnect with a relative you haven’t heard from for a long time.

Make some calls, send an email, reconnect with the living!

11. Trace your roots.

Join a genealogy group or link up with relatives who’ve started researching your family or join an online service which accesses records to find out more about those who lived long ago. Finding draft registrations for World War I and World War II is interesting, but you’ll be amazed to find the same information for the Civil War where you’ll find your ancestors really did fight against one another. And you may even be surprised to find records from the 1600 and 1700s.


12. Plan a family reunion.

Our family reunions in recent years have been disguised as weddings, but a true family reunion is overdue. It’s been close to a decade since our last reunion. That’s too long. Maybe 2016?

“Our ancestors have invented, we can at least innovate.”
~Amit Kalantri

TBT Lesson #15

What do you picture when you think of a family reunion? Good food, nonsense and lots of laughs?

In 1998, John’s Uncle Bud’s and Aunt Lucille’s 50th wedding anniversary served as a catalyst for a family reunion. Family traveled from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina to Beech Mountain, North Carolina for a weekend of fun.

Cousins reconnected and a new generation was introduced while sharing stories, playing games, and enjoying one another.

img587TBT Lesson #15: Make time to get together with family. You might even discover you like one another!