Once you have a better picture of your family heritage, don't let that knowledge go to waste. Celebrating your heritage is a great way to carry on traditions and pass those memories on to future generations. Your celebration can take many forms, but it's important to try to incorporate every family member, young and old, in the celebration. Older family members are essential for sharing stories and memories, and you won't be able to effectively pass on family heritage if the younger generations aren't included.
Remember, food also has cultural significance. Just as the many people in the United States celebrate national heritage with a Thanksgiving turkey feast, a special family meal is one meaningful way to celebrate family heritage. If you're able to incorporate old family recipes, this will be a wonderful treat for older family members, and it can teach something to younger members, too. If you have a family member who's a beloved cook, ask him or her to give a cooking-demonstration to provide any tricks or family secrets.
Let your particular heritage dictate the activities you choose for your celebration. If your family has any recreational pastimes, such as games, sports or singing, this could make for a great activity. In fact, it's a good idea to make at least part of the event a fun and joyous event. This will ensure that the celebration becomes a happy memory and tradition that family members will want to repeat. Another idea is to resurrect an old tradition. If your grandmother tells you her father used to sing to the family during special occasions, ask a musically gifted family member to sing or perform for everyone.
Whatever kind of celebration you have, make it a cooperative event, where the work of preparation doesn't fall on just one person's shoulders. Ask around the family for different members to be in charge of different tasks. Designate at least one knowledgeable family member in charge of explaining the significance of your celebration as you go along. If you have photographs or important heirlooms, set them out in a special display, perhaps with explanatory cards. And one final idea: Consider setting aside a story time where an older family member shares a cherished tale. That's sure to give them some good memories to pass along.
- Crowe, Elizabeth Powell. "Genealogy Online." McGraw-Hill Professional. (July 25, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=sJCZrkFZICEC
- Dowell, David R. "Crash Course in Genealogy." ABC-CLIO, 2011. (July 25, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=JuW122lrH-IC
- ENCToday. "The Importance of Family." ENCToday. Jan.1, 2005. (July 25, 2011) http://www.enctoday.com/articles/family-318-relationships-families.html
- Melnyk, Marcia Yannizzee. "Family History 101: A Beginner's Guide to Finding Your Ancestors." Writer's Digest Books, 2005. (July 25, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=O0Gte-8GgRUC
- Szucs, Loretto Dennis, Sandra Hargreaves Luebking. "The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy." Ancestry Publishing, 2006. (July 25, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=Jw3kn_AgNTkC