It’s once again the time of the year marked by colder temperatures, twinkle lights aplenty and inescapable advertisements informing us what we “need” to buy to have the best holiday season ever. In my experience, I’ve found having the time to slow down and connect with my extended family members is an invaluable gift that can’t be bought.
Last year, I found myself immersed in the stories of my dad’s siblings. He is one of 10 kids, so there are innumerable stories of unsupervised playtime from their childhoods. I noticed that a lot of their stories revolve around food — specifically, holiday dishes. We have “Aunt Maybelle” cookie bars from my dad’s great aunt, who annually hosted all 10 kids at her house on Christmas Eve so Santa could visit and deliver their presents. There’s also tourtière, the French meat pie recipe that my grandmother’s French-Canadian family passed down through the generations.
“The best loved stories are not from books or films, but those from our own families.” – Jane McGarvey
Many of my dad’s siblings have become great home chefs as adults. My aunts and uncles may have developed their culinary skills out of necessity, as their mother worked daily to prepare underwhelming meals for a family of 12. However, these meals still nurtured family bonding, and ignited moments that would later become beloved family stories.
This year, I plan to use my phone to record family stories and see where the conversations go organically. With the theme of food in mind, I’d love to assemble their stories and accompanying recipes into a family cookbook. Organizing family histories around a theme is one way to start organizing and collecting stories for a book project.
I encourage everyone to make note of the stories they hear this holiday season and start thinking about themes that may someday become the basis of a family history project, so these precious stories can be revisited for many holidays to come.
And if you have a project in mind, no matter where you are in your process, Lilja Lifestories can help bring your family history to life so it can become a cherished piece for future generations.