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This Thanksgiving, Start a New Family Tradition

Kimberly Fowler
By Kimberly FowlerNovember 18, 2016

This Thanksgiving while you’re enjoying your turkey and pumpkin pie, we encourage you to share family memories and dredge up old family stories.

Take the time now and every holiday to add family storytelling to your list of family traditions.

Start a New Family Tradition This Thanksgiving

How will your family spend Thanksgiving this year? According to geneology expert Kimberly Powell, the top five Thanksgiving traditions celebrated across the United States include:


Football

Football on Thanksgiving day is just as popular as turkey and pumpkin pie.

Giving Thanks

This is an important Thanksgiving tradition that families share in unique ways. Some take turns sharing why they’re thankful, others have a thanksgiving show and tell and others keep it simple with a special Thanksgiving prayer before they eat.

Thanksgiving Parades

46 million Americans watch a Thanksgiving parade live or on TV each year.

Thanksgiving Turkey

95% of Americans will enjoy turkey and all the trimmings this Thanksgiving.

Wishbone Wishes

Breaking the wishbone and making a wish is a popular family tradition that goes hand in hand with the traditional turkey meal.

At A Place for Mom, we’re suggesting you add a new family tradition to your Thanksgiving celebrations this year:

Share your family history.

Whether you have an oral or written family history, studies show that it’s important to share your family history with each other. Thanksgiving and other special holidays are a great time to share these family stories (even if you’ve all heard them before).

Why Sharing Your Family History Is Important

Sharing your family history keeps the lines of communication between generations open, and ensures that important information like genetic health factors are not lost. But there are other reasons that it’s important to share your family history:

  1. Knowing your family tree helps your family better understand your origins, which could have important practical uses for the future. For instance, you may have a child who wants to go to university abroad or wants to apply for a unique scholarship. Their application could be facilitated by information held in your family tree (an ancestor from another country or with native lineage, perhaps).
  2. Identifying the people in old family pictures is important for your family records. Consider taking the time to digitize these records to protect them from fire, floods and other potential damage.
  3. Studies show that children who have more knowledge of their family history show greater emotional resilience and are able to face stress and challenges more effectively.
  4. These same studies revealed that children who have the most self-confidence have a strong “intergenerational self,” which means they know they belong to something bigger than themselves.
  5. Telling stories about your family is a great way to spend quality time together.
  6. The New York Times reports that families with a strong sense of family history are happier.

What You Should Share This Thanksgiving

Share stories that are funny,  interesting, or just important to your family and it’s identity. Stories which give context to your shared family values are also important to keep alive. These could include stories like:

  • Challenges that your family has faced (and overcome) together
  • Circumstances under which children were born (at home on a farm, or snowy, stormy, nights)
  • Family memories (fishing, making bread, playing music etc.)
  • Family members who are missed (whether these are family members who live in another country or who have passed away, it’s important to share memories of them so they are not forgotten)
  • Family members you are proud of (a great aunt who was active in the civil rights movement, a parent who came to America to build a better life for the family, an uncle who went to war)
  • How couples in the family met
  • Reasons your family has moved
  • Successes that your family has enjoyed together
  • Where great grandparents, grandparents or parents grew up

What is the greatest benefit you’ve experienced or the most interesting thing you’ve learned about your family history on Thanksgiving? Share your experiences and stories with us in the comments below.

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Kimberly Fowler
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Kimberly Fowler
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