Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dia De Los Muertos

Last weekend, at a local event center Thanksgiving Point, my family and I got to attend a Dia De Los Muertos Event.  I'm not a big fan of Halloween--it just really isn't my thing, and I've always wished I lived in an area that celebrated Dia de los Muertos because that seemed a little more up my alley.  I love how it is a celebration of your ancestors and a chance to remember and honor them.  So we decided to go check this celebration out.  It was fun.  The decorations were beautiful with bright colors and Papel Picado flags representing the wind and the fragility of life. 
I love how happy this celebration is.  I love how it is a celebration of those who have passed on, not sad like a funeral, not scary like halloween, just fun--like a party. 
Waiting for the presentations.
There was great food and great signage everywhere to help people understand the significance of each part of the traditions. 
I loved the altars.  Families build altars to celebrate the life of someone who has passed on in their family.  It is a happy event to invite their loved one to return and enjoy some of the food, music, etc that they enjoyed during life.  It is also a great way to keep alive their memory and teach the younger generations about those who have passed on.  Altars can be built at home or in the cemetery and they are filled with offerings such as photographs, bread, flowers, toys and other things the person liked.  They typically have four elements to them: earth, wind, fire and water. Earth is usually represented with soil, stones, or pottery and wind is represented with the papel picado tissue flags (which I find interesting because in Hebrew, the word for wind is also the word for spirit). Fire is usually represented with candles that symbolize the soul of the loved one and help them find their way to return. Water is usually found on the altar to help quench the thirst of the loved one after they make the journey to visit.  Any family can build an altar for Dia de los Muertos as a fun way to teach the children in their family about their ancestors. 
I loved that they had a community altar where participants could leave remembrances of their ancestors.  And the marigolds (traditional flowers) were gorgeous and everywhere. 
All throughout the weekend there were performances, kids up on stage, etc.  We saw an awesome group that recreated Aztec dancing. They were fascinating. 

This would be a spectacular celebration to pass down your heritage with your family.  Especially if you come from a culture that celebrates Dia de los Muertos, but even if you don't.  There were lots of children's activities, face painting, sugar skull decorating, paper flag cutting, etc.  It is a great time to remember your ancestors, have fun with the children in your family and get together and celebrate the lives of those who came before you.  Enjoy. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thanks to my Dad

My Grandfather George Alvin Carpenter in his garden
I’m so thankful for my Dad today.  He took my son out to lunch for a visit and they ended up visiting the home where my father’s parents lived.  They had a long talk about my grandparents, about what they were like, about my grandfather’s career.  They found that my Grandfather’s garden plot was still there and that the current residents were still growing a garden there.  I remember every time we visited there we first had to go see how Grandpa’s garden was doing and admire his plants.  Dad talked to my son about how he met my mom and about his own life when he was my son’s age.  I’m so grateful for the time they got to spend together.  So glad they spent some time connecting the generations.  Thanks Dad!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Family Cookbooks

I had a wonderful email from a reader, who said I could share her ideas with you. Take a look:

"For years my daughter and I have talked about a family cookbook.  This year we actually pulled all the recipes together and I am now organizing them.  The recipes are the dishes that I grew up on, so therefore my kids grew up on them with the addition of some recipes that he brought from his family.  As each generation begins their own family more recipes are added from other lines coming into the tree.  We are binding it in a 3 ring binder, so that it is easy to add.  There will be a short comment on how the recipe came about, some variations etc.  

The cover will have a chart with all of the cooks and their descendants and something about what they liked to cook the most and for laughs a few disasters thrown in.  When cooking with your child, it is a perfect time to talk about Grandma Betty as we put her "famous" recipe together. 

Have a good day!

Family Recipe template from Zap The Grandma Gap:Power Up Workbook
What a great idea to put a chart on the front so that everyone can see how they are related.  And to put it in a three ring binder is brilliant too.   This sounds like a perfect gift for Christmas or for a new bride in the family.  Way to go Liz!

You can find ideas like this and many others by signing up for our 52 week Tuesday morning newsletter at

Monday, October 5, 2015

Family History Eagle Scout Projects

Eagle Scout Projects are a great way to engage youth in family history while providing leadership skills and service to the community. Eagle projects can be used to share family history and to record family history. If you have a potential Eagle Scout in your family you might think about genealogy for a great project.

Digitizing cemeteries using the BillionGraves app and website is fabulous Eagle Project which Geoff Rassmussen's son recently completed. Several of my neighbors have completed Billion Graves projects for their Eagles as well.  That is a great project that helps preserve cemeteries so that people can find their ancestors online.

A few years back my oldest son Adam completed his Eagle Scout Project by showing ways to involve youth in the vendor booths at genealogy conferences. While I was UGA president, we tried shaking up the conference a little bit by challenging each of the vendors to also sponsor an activity booth and giving them a discount on the booth in exchange for the activity.  Adam offered to help with some of the booths if the vendor didn't feel like they could do it alone.  He developed some great activities. 
Family History Bingo Make and Take
The RootsMagic Photo Booth

Family Roots Publishing sponsored popcorn
Games Your Ancestor Played was a popular booth.  It was fun to see the older generation teaching something fun to the youth.  The kids loved. it.
Making cemetery rubbings
Unfortunately we were about 2 years too early.  We didn't get a great turn out for youth but we learned alot of important lessons about youth and family history.

Luckily that has all changed now.  RootsTech is seeing record numbers and youth are getting involved all over the place. A couple of weeks ago, my son Matthew spoke again at the Ogden Family History Conference and the room was standing room only--completely filled with youth.  As he's given his "Get to Know Your Geezers" talk over the years, the room has filled with more and more youth--a great thing to see. The genealogy world is attracting youth in greater numbers and the trick is to keep them interested by providing fun opportunities within our families and communities.

An Eagle Scout project is a great way to get started.  Congratulations to Evan Rassmussen.  Our newest Eagle Scout genealogist.  Way to go!

Thursday, October 1, 2015