I know my husband does not like to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, so the fact that I am working on Christmas gifts year round seems all the more crazy to him. When you have a family as large as ours and a limited retirement income, I have to work on my ideas year round to have a chance to make the gifts that I want to give. After all, I want them to be personal and show that some thoughtfulness went in to the gift making process. I love everything to do with Family, and my favorite things to do is to create and plan thoughtful gifts to those I want to show my love to.
Even as a small child I loved to hear the stories from the older family members about the life events of our ancestors. I really look forward to when the new season of “Who Do You Think You Are” starts, so I can hear how other peoples family history is discovered in this weekly hour-long show. The reason I liked to have scriptures read to me by my mother at a very young age, was to hear cool family stories about the joys and trails that these people went through in their lives. My mother’s calming voice as she read to me at bedtime is still some of my fondest childhood memories. OK, I will confess something that if my school mate friends would have known back in those days, I would have been teased about big time. What started out as my mother reading to me bedtime stories as a young girl continued on until well into my teens years. Yes, I could have read them myself, and did that lots of times, but for some reason my mom enjoyed our reading time as much as I did so I did not pass up the chance to just relax and let her relate those tender bed story’s. I am a history fan for the same reasons. I love to know how peoples choices in their own lives have affected the lives of others. This is an area that just comes as a natural interest to me. I was shocked as I became a teenager to find out not everyone shares the same enthusiasm for learning and telling stories about their family history as I do. Yet I have found out now, that at some point in most people’s lives we all start to wonder about our own family history. The lucky ones are the ones who do it while their parents or grandparents are still alive and they are able to tell us about some of our family history. We do have sites like Ancestry.com that is a good resource to help us discover some of our family history. But lets be honest, “How many of us have old family photos that we have no idea who the different people are? “
For me personally, I ask myself how could I preserve my own family history in ways that whenever different family members might become interested in their family history they would have a resource to use? I wanted to make the family history places that I love a place that would hopefully become an easy and enjoyable way for other family members to learn some of the answers to the questions they might have about our family ancestors. I want my children and grandchildren and the ones who come after them to know not just their ancestors names and data like their birth-date and death dates, but I want them to know the person, the life events that molded the lives of all our different family members.
I have my father, who does well just to turn on his computer to write a letter on his computer, and in contrast I have an eight year old granddaughter, who lives 2500 miles away from me, who will Skype, or Face Time me so she can talk me through how to do very advanced things on my computer. So here is a few things I tied to take advantage of to get our family history digitized and put our different websites on so any of our family members who do use the computer could have as much access to any family data that I could share.
I scanned as many of the family photos from my grandparents and parents photo albums. I put them on many different websites, from my Facebook photo albums, to genealogy websites like familysearch.org, ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and myheritage.com.
One Christmas I made CD’s with personal labels of thousands of our old family photos and gave them to each of my different family members, so they too would have all the old family photos that I tried to organize and label.
I took all the old 8mm family films and VHS home videos, and I transferred them over to digital format. This is a process I am still working on, but one day I hope to have them edited and done in a way that I can give each family member their own copy of as many of our old family movies on DVD’s so they can watch them on their computers or TV.
I have some dairies of family members who have died, I want to one day take the parts I do not think they would mind sharing with other family members, and get them typed up on the computer, and place them in the above genealogy websites in that person’s area so anyone who is searching for them in the future will be able to learn more than just their name and dates.
I have some recipe fill boxes from family members who have died. I want to type up their recipes so their present day family can enjoy many treats from the past. I want to make up a family recipe book to give to the family members, and then also put their recipes on the above website so others in the future can try them and feel a little more connected to their ancestors.
I love to give my grandchildren a book as part of the Christmas gifts each year. I am in the process of attempting to make up a “Children” bedtime story book to give them of their real life ancestors. I want to include any maps of the area they lived and any photos we have. Why not let some of their bedtime stories be about their own personal history.
Another idea, is taking old photos of family members and putting them on my computer, then turning them into coloring pictures. Write a little something of who it is and why it’s part of the family coloring book. I want to make up coloring books for the younger grandchildren as a gift. This would be a wonderful quiet time, or family home evening active to have them do and to learn more about their family from the past and color Great grandpas face any color they want to.
You can go to most stores that sell computer items and buy a package of cloth transfer paper and then take old photos of family members and photo shop the person you plan to give the gift to in with an older ancestor who they look like. Then print the iron on photo to make a pillow case, a tee-shirt or something that you know they would maybe enjoy.
For several years I have been working on a Book project where I separated the different family lines. I hope if I ever finish that line back at least 10 generations, I can also make up books to give the family members.
On my Facebook page, I started several Family pages and I post all that I find on to that page. I use these pages as a means for different family members to view or to also post their findings, and come and share what others have posted. This is a good resource to learn and to help others in our family stay connected with the all family, past, present and future.
I am always looking for ideas of how to create fun and more personal gifts that also focus on our family history. If anyone has some ideas please share them here. I enjoy combining the things that I love to do and in so doing also give and share my findings of my family history with those I love.