Or, have you been researching your family for a long time and are now experiencing writer's block?
This post may help everyone interested in recording family history.
Many researchers want to do more than just record names and dates. What we'd like to do is "add meat to the bones," or flesh out our ancestors as we learn about them as individuals.
Amy Coffin of the WeTree genealogy blog has organized 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History, which offers a weekly prompt on a different topic. Readers can also access this list at Geneabloggers.com.
We think that this list is as valuable for recording your own life for your future descendants as it is for those considering interviewing older relatives.
It doesn't matter if you start in the middle of this list, at the end or at the beginning. The essential thing is just to start.
How you record your answers doesn't matter: Use "notes" on an iPad, a document on your computer, write your ideas longhand in a leather-covered journal, an ordinary school notebook, or on plain white paper. Just begin. However, recording them in a nice journal that can be passed down through the generations seems a good idea to us.
As you start recording this information for yourself - and that notebook may become a prized possession for a great-grandchild in the future - you will find more information useful when you interview senior family members.
It is also a great suggestion for your family members at your site at MyHeritage.com. Ask your relatives to contribute their own memories of a topic each week.
I've included a bit about my favorite stuffed animal - in the toy category - but you'll need to read on to learn about Wolfie!
Some warm weather topics:
The Southern California Genealogical Society’s annual Jamboree is one of the best-run large regional events in the United States. MyHeritage chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz and myself again attended and presented at this year's conference, held June 10-12, 2011, in Burbank, California.
Conference co-chairs Paula Hinkle and Leo Myers, in addition to their large team of volunteers, always make this an excellent experience.
Some 70 genealogy bloggers – a record number at any gen conference - blogged, tweeted and Facebooked throughout the event, as well as participating in social events, including an ice cream party and a piñata smashing, among others.
There are many good sports among this friendly group whose conference get-togethers are like a family reunion. A blogger media island enabled the bloggers to continuously tweet and Facebook over the three-day event.
More seriously, there were outstanding sessions to attend, ranging from breakfasts to evening dinners and everything in between. Among those attended by Daniel and myself were:
- A free Kids' Camp attended by many young people, including Boy and Girl Scouts.
- World table discussion, where Daniel and I headed the Jewish table at two sessions, answered questions and directed visitors to many resources for their individual quests.
- An informative breakfast presentation on using social media for societies by Thomas MacEntee, and
- A full-day family history writers conference.
Read on for more details.
Who Do You Think You Are Live will welcome some 20,000 visitors over this three-day event.
Our MyHeritage team has been busy! The first day of the family history fair was Friday, and we were very busy from the minute the show opened. Today (Saturday) will be even more crowded.
Here's famous genealogy blogger Dick Eastman with MyHeritage's chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz as Daniel demonstrates some of our new features.
Blogger and podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke dropped by yesterday to record short segments with Daniel and myself.
Today is expected to be even more crowded than yesterday and many people are dropping by to learn about the software, family sites, memory card game and other features such as SmartSearch, SmartMatch and more.
I'm preparing for my talk this afternoon on creating online sites for ancestral communities.
On Thursday evening, Daniel and I spoke in a double session for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. He spoke on SmartSearch, while my talk focused on genetic genealogy and DNA.
The MyHeritage team is very busy and includes Mario, Daniel, Robert, Laurence and mysef.
These conferences and fairs are always exciting, as we get to meet so many people. Many come up to us and announce that they are happy MyHeritage users. Others may have a small problem with a feature and Daniel is able to assist them, so they are also happy.
It's even more fun explaining about what we do to newcomers.
Talk about busy!
As soon as RootsTech ended, Daniel Horowitz and I flew to Albuquerque (New Mexico) to participate in A Taste of Honey, a community-wide education event, sponsored by MyHeritage.com.
Here we are at the MyHeritage display:
Genealogy is a popular subject here, even though there were many sessions on on completely different topics.
My presentation focused on Genealogy 101 - how to get started and, more importantly, why - while Daniel's presentation encouraged family history researchers to utilize all of MyHeritage.com's features.
This was the first year for RootsTech, a new technology and genealogy conference sponsored by FamilySearch.org, attended by some 3,000 people.
The Salt Lake City, Utah-event was described by some as "a candy store" for genealogists, genealogy bloggers and technology creators, developers and suppliers.
As it brought together technology people and consumers of family history products, it also provided opportunities for genealogy bloggers to meet face-to-face with the movers and shakers.
Each day featured excellent presentations on many topics by well-known speakers. To see the speaker line-up, click here.
With so many exciting talks by industry leaders and speakers, it was hard to plan our days. MyHeritage Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz and I staffed the MyHeritage booth and were also scheduled speakers.
Did your ancestors receive treats of whale blubber as a Christmas delicacy?
If they did, they must have come from Greenland.
Learn more about holidaycustoms around the world - which may be quite different from your experiences. It may help you understand your ancestors' traditions.
Santa Claus - who has many names - doesn't always wear his traditional red suit, fly around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, or pop down a chimney.
In Hawaii, he wears a red Hawaiian shirt, and arrives in an outrigger canoe, with elves in aloha shirts.
In some countries where the main religion is not Christianity, there are also interesting traditions.
When we lived in Teheran, I was surprised to see that one could buy Christmas trees, and many stores sold all types of brightly colored lights and decorations. There was a large Armenian community (both Protestants and Catholics) along with Iranian Nestorian Christians.
In India - in the former Portuguese colony of Goa - there are nine days of fireworks and parties to celebrate the Wise Men's arrival. Christians and Hindus celebrate together on January 6, the Feast of the Three Kings. Young boys from prominent families are chosen to play the kings, wear bright costumes and ride in on white horses.
Some other traditions:
Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite holidays.
As we get closer to the fourth Thursday in November - and plan for holiday celebrations - our family remembers our special tradition.
We have just relocated to the beautiful state of New Mexico and enjoying our few first weeks here. Even better, our daughter will be visiting from New York for the holiday.
Any holiday that brings family together is an opportunity for family history, even if it is only talking about previous holidays.
One story that is always part of our get-together is the story of our first turkey day celebrations when we lived in Iran long ago.
I had ordered a fresh turkey from a Teheran supermarket and specified that it had to be at my house on Wednesday morning - cleaned and ready.
Wednesday came and went, while I was busy making pies, preparing stuffing, and doing other myriad tasks. The store said it would be delivered in the afternoon.
The afternoon came and went.
He then said it would be there in the evening.
The evening came and went.
Early Thursday morning, there was a knock at the door, and Mr. Turkey arrived. Finally!
I took the large brown-paper wrapped parcel into the kitchen, and felt it was suspiciously warm. I gingerly opened the package and found an entire turkey. I mean an entire turkey.
It was compete with all its feathers, neck, head, eyes - everything but the gobble - and it was sitting right there on my kitchen counter.
At that point, I didn't know whether to cry or to laugh. Our friends were coming for Thanksgiving Day dinner in only a few hours and I'd never seen a bird like that, even less how to go about getting ready for the oven.
My husband called my mother-in-law - and as they laughed hysterically - she agreed to send over her housekeeper-cook to help out the poor foreign daughter-in-law who couldn't clean a turkey!
The woman arrived and efficiently de-feathered, de-necked, cleaned out everything that needed to be cleaned out - giggling the entire time.
Hey, I'm from New York, where Thanksgiving Day turkeys come cleaned in plastic bags, whether they are fresh or frozen. I had seen live turkeys, in person and on television, and turkeys ready for cooking, but never one in the intermediate stage.
In any case, I was then able to prepare Mr. Turkey properly, stuff it with a favorite cornbread and chestnut mix, roast and baste it to golden brown. Everyone said how delicious it was, despite the tragi-comedy of the situation.
We also mention how we American wives would search at a few special stores to hopefully find cranberry sauce, pumpkin puree for pies, and MiracleWhip for leftover sandwiches. These were not common items in Iran in those days, so one either paid astronomical prices for each can or jar or hand-carried it back on trips home.
We began telling the story of Mr. Turkey that year and tell it again each year. It is still funny.
It is our Thanksgiving tradition, no matter who is at our table.
We will tell the story again on Thursday in New Mexico.
Enjoy the holiday, if it is your tradition, and enjoy having your family around the table.
Tell the stories of holidays past, of family traditions. Keep the memories alive, and don't forget to take photos and video of your celebration to add to the family archive.
Post those photos and videos at your MyHeritage.com family site, so all family members - no matter where they live - can participate.
What is your most memorable Thanksgiving tradition or story? Share it with MyHeritage.com via comments to this post.