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November a Time for Family Memories

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Written by Marge Bitetti

November starts out the festive holiday season.  Some people work for days to prepare yummy foods for guests to share while others are delighted to be invited to eat the feasts that have been prepared and be able to dine in the company of family and friends.  The holidays are a natural time to reflect on the past.  Thanksgiving especially brings memories of favorite foods, and tasty meals. It is a time when the aroma of foods cooking can trigger memories of past holidays. The smells of the pumpkin pie cooking in the oven and a kitchen warmed by a turkey roasting in the oven that takes away the brisk chill of the November weather. Before the television gets turned on for the football games, people often pause and reflect about past holidays. While the meal is being prepared and eaten people often pause to give thanks for their many blessings and remember the relatives and friends who are no longer with them to celebrate.

A Time to Reflect

Memories are shared about the good times, or maybe the time that the dinner got burnt because it was the cook’s first experience cooking a large turkey. Maybe the memories are about the unexpected guests who always were welcomed and found room at an already crowed table.

Relatives and friends gathered for Thanksgiving enjoy talking about prior times spent with family and friends especially those who are not able to join the feast such as men and women who are in active military duty, or those loved ones who moved away, divorced, or left this world.

Family Changes Bring New Traditions

Sometimes, due to death or divorce, holiday traditions undergo change and revision to adapt to a life moving forward after loss. Perhaps the guests at the table are fewer or it might make more sense to go to a restaurant instead of cooking a large meal.

In the joy-filled time of reflection, people often reminisce about the past intermingled with the present. Usually it is only after a major turning point in a person’s life do they think about keeping a written history for themselves or future generations, but this holiday season could be a good starting point.

I recently attended my family’s 50th anniversary picnic.  Each autumn the family and extended family gather at a park that is centrally located to share a potluck meal.  When the meal is over, people pack and leave and many do not see each other until the following year.  The family members who started the gathering fifty years ago have all passed on.  The core family was made of seventeen brothers and sisters, fifteen that lived until adulthood.  People who attend the annual gathering know that the person next to them is a relative but little else is known.  This year a family spokesperson had everyone introduce himself or herself and share whom they were related to and why they attended.  This type of get-together would be great to document with words and photos so that members of the younger generation would have an appreciation for their roots and heritage.  Such occasions are great times to start writing down a personal family history.  If it seems like a difficult task to write about appoint a family member to turn on a tape recorder or video camera and capture the reminiscing and then transcribe the recording later.  This should provide a great start for writing down your family history.

Helpful Websites

What is your heritage?  What are your roots?  Doing ethnic research can be fascinating and it can also be very time consuming especially if you end-up looking at the wrong websites.

Whatever your heritage the cool crisp autumn days are a great time to start your search into the past.


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