En español | Quiet afternoons spent cooking with Mom. Late Friday nights in your pitch-black bedroom listening to Dad’s scary stories. Tía Aurora’s special iced tea with the fresh yerba buena you’d pick from her garden. Memories and traditions, shared with your children and grandchildren, can become the keys to a family history treasure trove. They establish our history and identity, but with families’ nonstop schedules and far-flung relatives, it’s often hard to hang on to them.
Family history projects once focused on creating family trees, filling photo albums, and preserving cards and letters, but new trends include recording oral histories and putting together trivia games, websites, and cookbooks that make the fun intergenerational.
Pass down your family memories this Hispanic Heritage Month. Here are some ideas that will let loose your creativity.
Family Trivia Game
Judy Lizarraga, busy mother of four, wanted a way to keep her extended family in Mexico, New Jersey, and Florida up-to-date on news and pictures of the kids. Her solution? Build a family website that features monthly newsletters.
“My family and friends enjoy receiving our family newsletter,” says Lizarraga, 35, cofounder of JDMIT Services, a web design company in Houston, Texas. “Although calling is important, a family website is also a good way to maintain a close relationship with your family. My friends and family never feel neglected or forgotten because every couple of weeks, or at least once a month, they'll get news, updates, and pictures from us. We have silly profiles of each immediate [family] member, news about us as well as our extended relatives, and photo galleries,” says Lizarraga, who’s of Spanish and Cuban descent.
This project has gotten her entire family involved, she says, with everyone from kids to adults sitting down to select images and design the layout for the photo albums. Now that the website is set up, Lizarraga spends about an hour a month maintaining it—and the older kids have moved on and created their own personal sites.
You don’t need to be a professional web designer to create a family site: The less technically savvy can click on one of many websites that offer templates that you customize with designs and photos.
Build your own website:
The Family Post
Family Trivia Game
Around the time Susana Sherman, 51, retired two years ago, the entire family was planning a cruise to celebrate her niece’s quinceañera . It was the first time she and her sisters would be together with all their children, says the Cuban American from Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
To make the trip and family reunion even more special, she used some of her post-retirement free time to create a family trivia game to play beforehand. “The board itself looks like Monopoly, and the questions are in the form of Trivial Pursuit,” Sherman says. “These are games we all grew up playing.” The game initially focused on the three sisters, “but then we included the extended family,” she says.
Want to build a game for your family? Blank boards, playing pieces, and directions for getting started can be found and bought online. The information and questions you put on the board can be as hard or as easy as you want, and can include trivia going back as many generations as you wish. Sherman made and decorated the pieces herself using materials from an arts and crafts store.
Besides being a fun way for immediate families to spend time together, games also help maintain contact with far-flung members, Sherman says. “My daughter and I got in contact with all of our family members, so they could add trivia questions. Everyone loved the idea, especially the younger kids, and we came up with our own rules. I even learned things about my family I didn’t know.”