October has been officially designated Family History Month, which makes this the best time of year to ignite—or maybe reignite—your passion for genealogy. You can certainly pay tribute to your heritage in a direct way—by researching your family tree, participating in an indexing project, visiting cemeteries, or interviewing elderly relatives. But there are also countless small and simple ways to weave family history moments into your everyday activities and experiences to foster a spirit of connection and purpose all month long. In the coming weeks on the FamilySearch blog, you’ll find four ideas to help you to incorporate these family history moments, starting with a chance to share what you really think about the people you love most.
Claudio R. M. Costa, “Don’t Leave for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 74.
Idea #1: Capture Compliments
Years ago, my husband and I started a small and simple family tradition, almost by accident. To pass the time on a long road trip, I rattled off all the things I love about my husband, Travis: his unique sense of humor, his work ethic, his strong and capable hands, his unfailing honesty, and his resiliency. He responded with his own spontaneous list of my best qualities, and we both instantly felt light and lifted.
Since then, these compliment exchanges have become a go-to strategy whenever someone needs a pep talk. One of us takes a deep, dramatic breath, then gushes at double speed: “You’re smartfunnyattractive, you smell good, you have a great vocabulary, you have amazing posture—” We have a bit of a laugh, but we also mean what we say. Except maybe for the part about the posture.
We’ve even roped my stepson into this tradition back in his teenage years as well as our 5-year-old daughter. Let me just say this: you haven’t lived until you’ve forced a bored 14-year-old boy to flatter you. And nothing compares to a genuine compliment from a small child, who is modeling what she just heard her parents say to each other: “I love the way you feed me and play with me. You’re the most beautifulest mommy. You’re super strong.”
Sometimes these compliment circles happen only verbally on impromptu occasions, but we’ve also written our lists down on paper, typed them into smartphone apps, put them into lasting keepsakes. When my father-in-law turned 80, for example, my husband, stepson, and I brainstormed a list of 80 things we love about him, and we wrote our list inside his birthday card. Then I turned that list into a scrapbook page featuring a picture of him on his birthday for us to keep and remember. On another occasion, I created an entire scrapbook album filled with lists of all the things we love about important people in our lives: grandparents, cousins, each other, and even our dog.
Collect kind words about your family members, present and past, then preserve and share the insights you gather.
While relaxing on a road trip or spending time with family on a lazy Sunday afternoon, select one person at a time to be the center of attention—whether they’re in the room with you, across the country or the world, or no longer living. Take turns sharing the things you admire about that person, the qualities that make him or her unique, the physical and personality traits that you love. You can jot your list in a journal or notepad, turn it into a scrapbook page or keepsake, record your thoughts on an audio device, or simply converse and connect verbally.
Make it a Family History Moment
Say you’ve just made a list of attributes and traits that everyone in your family loves about Grandma. Now type it up and add it as a Story to her profile on Family Tree so it will help paint a picture of who she was for future posterity. You can also use the Family Tree app (on iPhone or Android) to make an instant audio recording of your loved ones as they debate Grandma’s best traits.
Invite your social circle to connect with this idea by sharing any insights you gained on Facebook—or post your lists on the FamilySearch Facebook Page using the hashtags #familystories or #familyhistory.
If you have ideas or thoughts to share about this blog series, please leave us a comment. We also invite you connect with FamilySearch on any of our official social media channels.