December 15, 2020
This year, the holiday season is different, maybe something like 1918-1919 might have been. My grandfather from Iowa died in 1919 during the time of the Spanish Flu. His death certificate indicated that he died from pneumonia, one of the primary causes of death during the 1918-1920 pandemic, according to this National Institutes of Health article. My grandmother’s written memories indicated that, as a traveling salesman, he had been out on the road and came back home sick. He fought his illness for a number of days before he died. My cousins and I have conjectured that maybe his death was a result of the Spanish Flu, but we have no way of knowing any more for sure; my grandmother’s notes about it give us pause about his contracting his illness from where he had been travelling.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in many ways, and in turn, everyone has stories to tell about the impact of the illness on their lives. This holiday season has and will likely inspire new ways of connecting with family as each one of us endeavors to stay as safe as possible. Many folks have curtailed travel for the time being, but still have the 2020 advantage of communicating online via several different mediums. Even in-person family gatherings may have a whole different feel, with masks, elbow bumps, and gestured hugs and kisses—a whole new take on traditions.
This is a rich opportunity to put the pen to paper and write about how this holiday year is different for you. There is also the possibility of recording your voice as you share your experience by using one of the Library’s Tell Me a Story oral history recording kits. Doing so can save your memories about this for future generations, explaining your perspective as no one else could. Hopefully, this type of experience doesn’t come around again for another 100 years, or even better, never, but the takeaways we gain can be an enlightenment for our descendants to understand the backdrop of our personal experiences in this tumultuous time of change, highlighting how it permanently changed our futures.
In writing these stories, there are plenty of tools available at the Midwest Genealogy Center and Mid-Continent Public Library that can assist you, including the books Telling Your Own Stories, Finding your Voice, Telling your Stories, Memories of Me, and others in the MCPL catalog.
We can all be historians here. Let’s make a special effort now to let posterity know that this year was different.
Midwest Genealogy Center