Now it is time to sit back and enjoy the company of family and friends and reminisce about past Christmas’’.
One of my fondest childhood holiday memories is of my favorite aunt, Marie. Aunt Marie was an "old maid,"as we used to say, and she would sit with us at the "kid’s table." In my parent's house, the separate tables were not only for meals but also for games. While the adults played cards, the children played games. Aunt Marie would play games with us and tell stories about when she and our mother were children. This intrigued me, as it does most children, to think that my Mother was once a child. I remember pestering my Aunt with many questions. It is one of my best childhood memories.
This holiday season, families will come from near and far to celebrate together. It is a good time to ask Grandma or Uncle Ed to sit in a quiet place (if you can find one) and conduct an interview.
Doing an interview is not as easy as it sounds and requires some preparation and practice. Plan to use a tape recorder if possible. Refrain from taking notes if you are recording. This can sometimes be distracting to the person being interviewed. Have a list of prepared questions as well as a few notes with names, dates and places to refresh your memory. Some answers may lead to other questions that are not on your list. The important thing is to keep the conversation flowing to encourage memories to surface.
Below are some general questions that can be used or revised to suit the circumstances. Interview Questions:
-Where were you born? (may be sensitive about age, so stay away from the date for now!)
-Is this also where you grew up?
-Do you know why your parents named you _______(fill in the name)? It may be a family name.
-How did you get to school? (Find out if they lived in town or on a farm.)
-What did your father do for a living?
-Is this what his father did for a living?
-Did you have relatives living in the area? (Such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins.)
-Did you visit with these relatives?
-If the answer to the question above is "no", ask whom they spent holidays with.
-Do you remember taking any trips when you were growing up?
-Where did you go on these trips?
-What sort of transportation was used?
-Did you visit any relatives during these trips?
-Do you remember any visitors coming to stay with you when you were young?
-Was there ever a time when anyone outside your parents and siblings lived in your house?
-How long did this person stay with your family?
-Were they a relative? If so, how were they related?
-Did your father(then mother) ever talk about when he was growing up?
-Did your father(then mother) ever say anything about other people besides his parents and siblings living in the same house?
-Do you remember your grandparents?
-Did they like to tell the grandchildren stories?
-What stories do you remember them telling you?
As an adult, I remember some of the stories Aunt Marie told us. How accurate those memories are, I’ll never know. It wasn’t until I was an adult and started my genealogy quest that I realized those stories could be important for my family search. By then, she was gone. I wish I had known the right questions to ask and taped her stories. Fortunately, I still have my memories of those stories and they always bring a smile to my face.