Gathering Family Stories During the Holidays

By Kerry Smith

We gather to feast. We gather to reminisce. Family time during the holidays is fabulous for sharing good food and fun. With bellies full and time to spare, we often sit around and tell stories, remembering when.

I love family get-togethers and often use the time to gather family history information, preserving the memories of ancestors and the memories we make together.

With a tiny bit of advance preparation and a few handy tools, you can make the most of your holiday gatherings too. 

  1. Take photos. Somehow the party is often over before we remember to take pictures. Be the designated family photographer and take a bunch. I’m often that person in my family and try to snap photos of everyone at the beginning of the event. That way I’ve for sure accomplished the goal.

  2. Scan photos. Grandma certainly has a bunch of family photos throughout her home. You can easily scan them without taking anything off the walls. Photomyne is a handy app that does the work for you. I discovered it a year ago, and it’s amazing!

Just download the app, watch the short tutorial, and use your smartphone to scan the pictures. The quality is outstanding, and you’ll have digital copies in a matter of minutes. There’s no need to haul a big scanner and laptop to a family event. This palm-size product is perfect and comes with a free trial.

  1. Take notes. As you talk about the photos, make a list of who is in them, along with where and when they were taken. If you need to simplify the task, simply record the conversation on your phone. It’s an easy way for you to identify the photos and write captions later.

  2. Record Stories. You can find helpful story prompts at FamilySearch and answer the questions as you record. You can do voice recordings or type responses. They’re stored for you on the site. FamilySearch apps also have recording options. Older family members, in particular, may not know about these fun features, so be sure to show them.

  3. Share the memories. Offer to start a family website or social media group where everyone can stay in touch easily. Not everyone takes the same photos (or takes them at all), so it’s helpful to designate a place where everyone can share electronically. For those who aren’t online, you can still share on digital photo frames and with photo or scrapbook gifts. 

Family time is so important, and this special time of year while celebrating the holidays is a golden opportunity. “Family stories give us a sense of who we are and connect us to our heritage,” we’re reminded on the Church’s website. “Connecting with our earthly families reminds us that we are all children of a loving Father in Heaven.”

This year, make the holidays a fun family history experience as well as a festive gathering. You’ll help build unity and preserve traditions and memories that will last forever. 

Kerry Griffin Smith enjoys uplifting those around her. She was a writer and editor for the former Ensign Magazine. You can find her sharing impactful, clean books in her online book club group. Feel free to join.

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