Are your family members not cooperating with your quest to gather genealogical data over the holidays? Then try switching your approach and disguising your genealogy questions.
A seasonal topic of discussion could be Christmas trees, either the one in your living room, in the local mall, or in Rockefeller Square. People have associations, memories, and opinions about Christmas trees, even if they are not part of their holiday traditions. If you ask questions focused on the tree, you may be able to elicit family history indirectly.
Here are some sample questions to get you started:
- When did you first see or decorate a Christmas tree? This query may result in stories about a relative’s grandparents and events from decades ago.
- What kind of Christmas tree did your family purchase (Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce, etc.). Answers to this may offer insight about where the family lived. We always purchased Noble Fir trees when I was little, but you cannot buy then where I live now.
- Real or Artificial tree? That question might start a discussion about storage, finances, trips to the forest or Christmas tree farm, or the smell of fresh pine.
- Did you ever want a Christmas tree? For those who did not or do not celebrate Christmas a question such as this may open a discussion of cultural exclusion or of cherished traditions. For multicultural families you may obtain information about how holiday traditions are negotiated.
If you need to brush up on your Christmas tree trivia to impress your relatives, you can watch a brief video on the history of Christmas trees from History.com, read about the National Tree in Washington D.C. from the National Park Service, or visit the official page of the National Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Family History Holiday from Genealogists.com.