As the holiday season approaches, we look forward to the joy of family gatherings, shared meals, and celebrations. Whether you celebrate with presents under the tree, wooden shoes stuffed with straw, or a bonfire made from dried thorn branches, it is a season of joy and togetherness.
The Christmas season is an opportune time for breaking down barriers and for connecting with those who lighten our lives or whose lives we can make lighter through helpful service. Whether driven by personal convictions of faith or love for mankind, we choose to light the world.
Here are some ways that family history can help you light the world this Christmas season. For even more ideas of how to reach out to friends, neighbors, and loved ones, please revisit our suggestions from last year.
Week 1—Light the World
Join with others in making December 1 a worldwide day of service by aiding someone in his or her family history quest. Many people visit FamilySearch.org out of a desire to know their ancestors better. So help light the world by choosing to help someone learn about their ancestors during this first week.
How you can light the world—This week, help someone learn more about family by recording a family story or sharing a family photo. You can also add more information about your ancestors in FamilySearch Family Tree. Who knows? You could help relatives solve a puzzle that they have been trying to answer for years!
Consider volunteering your time by indexing names online. FamilySearch’s cool record hints feature uses indexes to help users make ancestral discoveries. The efforts of hundreds of thousands of selfless volunteers have made more than a billion records easily searchable online through FamilySearch indexing.
Week 2—Light the Community
Many family traditions—especially holiday traditions—have roots in cultural customs. These customs, while dear to us and our families, can seem strange to those unaccustomed to them. (For example, doesn’t kissing under mistletoe seem quite strange, when you think about it?) It doesn’t have to be that way!
How you can light the world—Share your family’s heritage with friends and neighbors by inviting them to participate in a holiday tradition your family enjoys. (Personally, I’d skip the mistletoe.)
Week 3—Light Your Family
The holiday season can be hectic. For as much time you can spare, focus on connecting with family and learning more about their lives—and, in the process, they will come to understand how much you care about them.
How you can light the world—Sit down and talk with someone who is important to you. Learn about this other person. Consider using the questions in 52 Stories or the FamilySearch Memories app to record for future generations what the person has to say.
To light your home, fill one of these colorful Christmas trees with names or pictures of your family and hang it up. Download a red-and-gold tree or download a multicolored tree. As a reminder of your family, these trees can be a bright addition to any home during the holiday season.
Week 4—Light Your Faith
As we learn about our family history, we become connected to our ancestors’ lives. Because of the lives they led, we have been blessed.
How you can light the world—We invite you to consider the gifts you enjoy because of your ancestors. Take time to reflect—individually and as a family—on how you have been blessed through your ancestors’ lives. Jot down some thoughts in your journal (or on your ancestors’ pages on FamilySearch.org) about how you benefited from time spent with them or their work and sacrifice. In so doing, you can enjoy a greater appreciation of the timeless gifts you have been given through your family.
Invite Others to Light the World
To light the world this holiday season, consider learning about or sharing a favorite faith-based holiday tradition with a friend or neighbor. Of course, we suggest helping someone make a family history discovery—and, in the process, you can make one too!
The gift of family history is a gift that keeps on giving. The joy of discovery has no seasonal boundaries. It enlightens individuals and strengthens the family with each additional insight. So, as you think about how to light the world, remember that these are only a few suggestions. There are many ways to light the world this season! We wish you the best as you spread love and understanding through family history. Please let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below.