11/11/2013 07:44 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 10:53 GMT

A Genealogy 'Must': Be Sure to Include All Aspects of Your Family in All Your Gatherings

A Genealogy 'Must': Be Sure to Include All Aspects of Your Family in All Your Gatherings

If you follow me on my blog Onward To Our Past®, or on our Facebook page, you know that I am not only a genealogical historian, but I am also a significant aficionado and lover of Thanksgiving. Simply put it is my all-time favorite holiday (and I dearly love every holiday), so its place of honor as #1 is truly exceptional.


I love Thanksgiving for a lot of reasons. First, it is one of the least commercial of all the major holidays in the States. While it has made a slight reappearance on the store shelves in the last couple of years for a long time it was a rarity to find much of anything to buy in the way of Thanksgiving decorations. As a family historian, I appreciate it because it focuses on family and we always invite our entire extended family to join us to celebrate Thanksgiving at our home. Our crowd varies in size, but this year we'll be seating 21 at our tables. While I am not a gourmand, I do enjoy a good meal, and I love that Thanksgiving includes a very traditional feast. Finally, I also really appreciate that it also focuses on values of sharing, gratitude, and thankfulness. Put them together and what do you get? My favourite holiday of them all!

This year it is providing us with a once-in-a-lifetime double feature as the first day of Hanukkah happens to fall on Thanksgiving Day! Last time this happened was in 1888 and according to physicist Jonathan Mizrahi it won't happen again until the year 79811! That's a long, LONG, L-O-N-G time! You can read his remarkable analysis by clicking here.

This historic confluence of events, which has been dubbed Thanksgivukkah in the media, will have a direct impact on my favorite holiday as some of my in-laws are Jewish and I want to be sure to be inclusive and recognize the importance of Hanukkah when they are here with us. As a result this year our Thanksgiving table will include a menorah with my niece conducting the candle lighting, a touch of Hanukkah in our decorations, our meal will be preceded by a lovely Thanksgiving grace written by Rabbi Naomi Levy, and our traditional menu will be expanded to include latkes and an apricot noodle kugel for all our guests to enjoy.


This event also got me to thinking about the importance of including and incorporating all those religious observations, holidays, and traditions that may be recognized by some of our family, or were practiced by some of our ancestors, into our present day lives. It really helps make our genealogy come alive!

In our family we have a wide and wonderful diversity that makes the tapestry of our family all the more enjoyable and valued. As the words of the famous song from the musical South Pacific, 'You Have To Be Carefully Taught', say:

"You've got to be taught before it's too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You've got to be carefully taught."

This is why I believe it is critical that we as genealogy fans focus on being inclusive in these wonderful combined events, especially so we can model diversity for our younger family members.

It is only through focusing on inclusiveness that we are able to maintain the historic roots of our families. Most of all, it is also a superb way to illustrate and involved the younger generations of our families in exactly how diverse and multifaceted our families' tapestries truly are.

By being inclusive we are living examples of acceptance, appreciation, understanding, diversity, and much more. This modeling is crucial if we want the younger generations to embrace our love of genealogy. It will also benefit us and by getting our families to get excited about all we have discovered and want to share about our families, our genealogy, and our histories.

The more inviting we make genealogy, the more we will entice others to join us in our family history, love of genealogy, and our ancestral journeys!