6 Relatively Safe Things to Talk about at Thanksgiving (I Think)

Looking for something to do this weekend? Be sure to check out the November program listings.

Ready or not, next week is Thanksgiving. This week, as a public service, we present some ideas for things you can talk about around the dinner table on Thursday or during the following couple of days to avoid fighting talking about religion, politics, and whether or not Mom's gravy is as good as Grandma used to make. You're welcome.

Sometimes it's fun to sit with the family and look at photos, so why not some related to the Trails of History? No need to comment on Uncle Bob's bad combover or that awful dress cousin Sue wore to the senior prom in 1979. Luzerne County Visitors Bureau (anthracite region) just announced the top 10 photos in their fall photo contest. The winning entry, by Cheryl Miller, features a streetscape at Eckley Miners' Village. Congratulations, Cheryl! (Also worth noting is that Eckley will begin accepting entries for its Winter Wonderland photo contest on Dec. 1.)

Cheryl Miller - WINNING PHOTO! Congratulations! Eckley Miners Village

Posted by Luzerne County Visitors Bureau on Friday, November 13, 2015

Okay, so this next one could turn sticky pretty quickly, but I still think it's worth sharing. StoryCorps, a project that has recorded and archived thousands of personal stories of everyday life and significant events, has launched "the Great Thanksgiving Listen." A pilot project aimed primarily at high school teachers and students, this initiative encourages students age 13 and older to take advantage of family get-togethers over the holiday to gather and save the wisdom of our elders. You don't have to be a high school student or teacher to participate, but you must be at least 13 years old (and have parental permission if you're under 18). For more information and instructions on how to get involved, visit the project website.

Even if you're not up for recording family stories, you might want to gather family history info while you have people in a weakened condition due to overuse of mashed potatoes. The PHMC has been partnering with Ancestry.com to digitize and make available family history records held by the PA State Archives. If your family is from Pennsylvania, you may be able to find birth, marriage, and death records; military service records; and census and property info. A Pennsylvania zip code is all you need to create a free account (if you already have an Ancestry.com account you can use that).

Or you might want to check out the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania's new and enhanced online catalog of its library and archives. If you have railroad history fans in your household (and who of us doesn't?) you (or they) might enjoy searching for particular pieces of history or browsing through the records of this amazing collection. There's even an intro video to help you navigate.

Or you can do some brainstorming about things that have and haven't changed. Linton Weeks, national correspondent for NPR Digital News, is crowdsourcing a story on things that people still do the way people did them 100 years ago (and yes, he's aware of the potential pitfalls there). In a post on the NPR History Dept. blog, he goes into more detail on what he's looking for and provides the example of Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, OH, that is a museum and a production brewery, complete with period-costumed brewster (which is apparently what female brewers were called in the 1850s). Anyway, I'm thinking some of you out there might have info and ideas to share based on your own experience or places you've visited. The article has more info about how to get in touch with Mr. Weeks.

And, okay, this one's about pictures too, but I said 6 things, so you're getting 6 things. For more pictures to look at, Washington Crossing Historic Park announced the finalists in the fall photo contest, all of which are on display in the Visitor Center. The People's Choice award went to Justin DeRosa.

And the People's Choice winner is....Justin DeRosa, for this stunning photo of a cannon and the Mahlon Taylor House in...

Posted by Washington Crossing Historic Park on Sunday, November 15, 2015

And a little bonus, shared by the folks at Washington Crossing. A recent article in People magazine featured photographer John Olson, who has put together a team of technicians and engineers to create 3-D versions of paintings that allow people who are blind to experience paintings through touch. Guess which famous painting is among those shone in the article?


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