I still believe that genealogy is a hobby that can be enjoyed by entire families, young and old. And at almost any occasion, you can introduce it. The only trick to involving everyone is: keeping it simple.
Find something in common between the youngest and the oldest and build it up from there.
For example: when my sons were small, and we were decorating the family Christmas tree, there was one ornament they would fight over as to who would put it on the tree. It was a smiling elf dressed in green with red pointy slippers and red-trim on his green pointy hat; sitting with his arms wrapped around his shins, and when you shook him, he jangled. Not a jingle, a jangle … he was out of tune, badly.
I told my sons that “Jangle the Elf” hung on my Mum’s tree from the first Christmas that I could remember. She had told me that I would check on him, almost daily, with a little poke. He would jangle, and I would report, “Yep, he still sings, Mum!”
When it came time for me to move out on my own, Mum bought me some ornaments for my first Christmas tree. Then she gave me one of her ornaments – Jangle the Elf. She explained that when she was moving out on her own, her mother bought her some Christmas ornaments and Jangle was one of them, but she had also given her a set of special ones – glass pinecones. (There used to be six, when my siblings and I were small, but only one survived by the time we all moved out.).
But, I started/added a twist on this tradition in 2003, when my father passed away. All three of my sons were close to my father and enjoyed his stories of being a Mechanic in the Air Force, during the time of the Avro Arrow Project. That Christmas, I purchased a little die-cast jet fighter (a US Navy Blue Angel) and a copper gingerbread man cookie-cutter. I tied some black thread to them and put them on the Christmas tree with all our other purchased ornaments.
Then I told my boys, when they see the little Blue Angel jet, they can remember their grandfather’s military stories. I then asked them what they remember when they visit their Grams … “Cookies!” … and I pointed at the gingerbread man cookie-cutter.
I told my sons that it did not matter where we were or where their grandparents were, we could always remember them both whenever we look at the little jet and the gingerbread man, and that they would always be with us at Christmastime.
MiLady commented later, after the boys went to bed, that it was a beautiful idea to help them remember my parents.
“I know,” I answered, choking back tears, “but I wasn’t just helping them.”
Categories: Advent Calendar