As a Mayflower Descendant and former teacher, I struggled trying to think of a teaching tool to pass on our family’s Mayflower history to our grandsons in a way they could remember vividly.
At an Oregon State Mayflower Society Meeting, member Nancy Gail Smith shared a tradition that she started with her family and celebrates on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. She said that she lines up votive candles in miniature glass pots with names and dates of each ancestor printed and taped onto the edge of the pot for each person in her family’s lineage, from her grandchildren all the way back to the Mayflower. This creative idea really got me thinking. . .children LOVE to light candles. . . Creating a family “Ancestor Board” to the Mayflower would be a very visual way for our grandsons to SEE and REMEMBER how they are related to the Mayflower. Click on the link below to download the instructions!
Now at Thanksgiving, we light our candles before the meal. We start with our four Mayflower passengers and light their childrens' candles, grandchildrens' and all the others all the way down to our grandsons. When we get to living relatives on the board, each individual lights their own candle. Of course, there is discussion for each generation. . .”I wonder what life was like for him/her?” Or “I remember great-grandpa!” Two years ago, one of our grandsons, age 9, had a moment of understanding after lighting. He said “You mean these people that everyone celebrates at Thanksgiving are actually OUR PEOPLE? OUR FAMILY?” Yes Noah! They are! As a parent and grandparent of Mayflower descendants, this family project has both educated our next generation and created a new tradition of sharing history and memories around our Thanksgiving feast!