A Quick Start Guide to Researching Your Roots, Part 6

A Quick Start Guide to Researching Your Roots, Part 6

By Shannon Warnick

As a mother with four small children, countless relatives and a very limited budget, my annual holiday panic is about to set in. That's right - it's time to start thinking about holiday gift giving, and while this may not seem like an appropriate topic for this column, I hope that by the time you finish reading you'll see that it really does fit.

If you've been following this column since the summer and started your journey toward your family history, you should have a fair bit of information collected. Last month, I shared my discovery of a pamphlet that proved to be a true diamond of a find in my research, and I shared my desire to build a family "story" - filled with stories and anecdotes that help give depth and insight into those relatives who came before. Thinking about the holidays reminded me of another subject that helps define who we are - F O O D!

Family Cookbooks!

Family favorites, recipes handed down through the ages, tweaked and altered until they are uniquely ours. And with the recipes come the traditions - cakes saved for special days, Sunday morning traditions, a Christmas "must-have", etc. What family story would be complete without these? And this sparked an idea - a way to share my research and solve my gift-giving woes - a collection of recipes, facts and traditions - a family cookbook!

"I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tunafish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock." - Barbara Grizzuiti Harrison

So this month is devoted to collecting all the recipes - Aunt Jenny's pumpkin bread, Big Daddy's icing, Mom's rice salad, etc. Can you think of any special foods or even just unique recipes that are a part of your family story? Was there something that was served every Thanksgiving or Christmas? Something made only for Halloween or Easter? Did Aunt Jane have a special dish she always brought to family reunions? Cakes or casseroles that were made especially for giving away? A favorite stew for warming chilled bones on a cold winter night? A solution to a bountiful harvest of tomatoes or cucumbers?

As you collect recipes, remember to ask for anecdotes to go along with them. The stories of great grandma waking at the crack of dawn to ready the Thanksgiving turkey and fill the house with smells of her apple/raisin stuffing. Or stories of heading to a local berry patch to collect and eat as many berries as one could hold for grandma's famous pies. And don't forget Uncle Henry's 4-alarm, set your hair on fire chili recipe!

To add even more flavor to your cookbook, you could include pictures of family events - a small child caught picking the raisins out of the stuffing at Thanksgiving, a mountain of morsels at a family wedding, a birthday featuring that special cake... or what about a sample packet of Uncle Henry's chili spices, or a mix for Aunt Jenny's bread? You could turn it into a gift basket with book, utensils and mixes... just let your imagination (and pocketbook) be the guide!

Other Gift Ideas

"Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal." - Lenore Hershey

And there are other ideas for tying together your genealogical research and gift-giving this year:

A family quilt - using scanned photos transferred to fabric blocks

A calendar - with old photos and important family dates already entered

A family yearbook - combining photos of this year and yesteryear

A children's book - sharing your research with even the youngest members in a unique way

and much, much more...

About the author

Shannon Warnick is Mom to Lisa, Collin, Daniel and Sarah. She loves to research on the internet and help those around her find what they need. Shannon loves the freedom the Internet has given her.


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