August is designated Family History Month, and no, not just in the US but in Australia too. Though it’s obvious that it wouldn’t matter even if it was declared the same in India. Gone are the days of joint families when stories of ancestors were only dadi’s room away for any bored child. Instead we have a nuclear culture that divides the family into ‘the loved ones at home’ and ‘the other relatives elsewhere’. The truth is, considering the current millennial trends, soon we will need to dedicate a month of the year exclusively to family.
Before things get that far and family itself becomes an obligation, here are some ideas that will not only bring you closer to your DNA relatives but possibly also produce some very interesting artistic results.
1. Cook Together
Gather together to either watch the ladies of the house recreate ancestral dishes, or do a sort of cooking class where the recipes are ‘officially’ passed on to the next generation. Mind you, with so many cooks surrounding the broth there are bound to be some clashes, but bickering is a large part of any relationship that also includes heartwarming love.
2. Visit Your Grandparents’ Birthplace
By your grandparents’ place I don’t mean their current address, what I’m referring to is the ancestral home. Or, as some of us might discover, literally the place of birth, because not every ancestral home survives. This makes it even more fun, because then you can take the grandparent along to see what has become of the place today and have them relive and paint afresh very old memories.
3. Cut A Video
You know those old tape recordings that play gibberish apparently spoken by you at the tender age of 7 months and which parents flaunt and love with dear life? It’s time to pay back. The affection, I mean. Make a video of the elders of the house telling anecdotes of family members long gone, of myths long forgotten and from houses long abandoned. Fusing this with any tape recordings they might have of your own childhood by digitising would make everyone smile.
4. Archive Old Photographs
Before video were stills. Images where great-grandparents look wide-eyed into the lens, shocked out of their wits by the blinding flash. Those are the real treasures. Every relative would have his or her own collection lying around. Putting them all together in a neat digital scrapbook would make for a wonderful Diwali gift too. Finally, top it all up with a stylised, vintage family portrait shot of the current family members at a photo studio.
5. Find The Oldest Objects
Every house in the world tells a tangible history of its occupant. The most mundane looking objects (think hairpins, my mother has some from the 18th century, and she has spoons from our great-grandfather’s brother’s wife’s niece) can reveal the most amusing tales. Putting them together in one room or archiving the story behind each object is another exercise that will help you understand your extended family better.
6. Create A Family Tree
I’d recommend creating a family tree not only for historical documentation purposes, but also to discover what awesome names your ancestors had. Nomenclature has changed drastically over the decades; I’ve heard some pretty impressive names from friends while doing the same, like Bijli Harihar Singh (a thunderous applause for that one). Here’s an app that would make it easier for you. You could then upload the final family tree on a website which only the family members can access, and which shall continue to grow as time goes by.
Image Credit: Click here