Posted by Jasmine Vasquez on May 4, 2017 in Guest Bloggers

Senior Woman Looks At Photo Frame With Mature Female Neighbor

Gifts inspired by family history are guaranteed to make the moms in your life feel special. That’s why one researcher at AncestryProGenealogists has turned family history-themed gifts into a tradition.

“My parents can buy anything they want, but when I take the time to do something that’s personal to them, that’s what means the most,” said Julie Merrill, an associate genealogist who specializes in both Scandinavian and Southern U.S. research. “It has brought us closer together and allowed me to show my parents how much I love them.”

Although not everyone in Julie’s family shares her passion for genealogy, she has found creative ways to teach her relatives more about their ancestors and cultural traditions. She recently shared a few of her favorite projects that could easily be personalized.

Family History in a Jar

One year Julie gave her father-in-law the gift of sharing his life story with his children. She filled a Mason jar with questions about his life that were written on strips of paper. During their weekly visit, she would pull out a couple of questions and record his answers in a notebook. Eventually she had enough stories to create a book about his life for her husband and his siblings.

“He was quiet, and most of us didn’t know much about him,” Julie said. “But he was a Marine and had served in two wars; he was wounded; and he had a lot of great stories that his children had never heard before.”

Recipe Book or Calendar

Smell has a way of bringing back memories, and old family recipes are a wonderful way to evoke family stories. Julie created a recipe book for her family, and each recipe featured a brief description of what their family loved about that dish. She also made a calendar for her husband’s family that featured a different family recipe each month. Many genealogy programs allow you to make calendars that include birthdays of all the relatives in your tree, so this type of project doesn’t necessarily require skills beyond those you already have.

“Every single one of my husband’s siblings keeps that calendar with their recipe books,” Julie said. “They are spread out across the country, and this brings them all together remembering meals their mom would make. It helps keep those memories alive of when they were together.”

Memory Book

What mom gets tired of hearing how special she is to her children and grandchildren? Julie has seven siblings, and one year she and her sister asked each of their siblings to write down their most treasured memory of their mother. They bound the memories into a book that her mother can cherish for the rest of her life.

“It was cool, because almost all the kids mentioned the same thing,” Julie said. “Her number-one priority was her kids. We always knew she loved us, no matter what. It was meaningful to my mom, because she was validated. She knew that what she did was important, that it mattered, and she did a good job. Raising eight kids is not easy!”

Tips for Success

No matter what type of project you choose, planning ahead will ensure that your best ideas and intentions become reality. Pick a project that you could do in a week or two using a few minutes of your time here and there. Or, ask your mom what would be most meaningful to her and tackle it together. Sometimes the gift of your time and attention is the best way to make your mom feel loved.

Has family history inspired any gifts you’ve given to loved ones?

Jasmine Vasquez

Jasmine Vasquez writes for the Storytelling Team at AncestryProGenealogists. Before joining Ancestry, she earned her journalism degree from the University of Oregon and worked as a reporter in Central Oregon. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.


  1. Deborah

    I am not showing on my husbands account. I had my DNA done and have a very close match, that is great, but I want to contact them. I was adopted at 12 months old.

  2. Deborah

    Help, was adopted and have a close hit. I am under my husbands account and am pretty much non exhistent, help me…. what do I do to get my own account with my DNA moved over!!

  3. Pat Kennedy

    One Christmas, I made family gift books of letters written to Santa, letters written to both grandmothers. As the grandmothers had passed I had their letters from my children etc. and things that I had. Turned out great.

  4. Margaret Knap

    Didn’t I recently pay apx. $79.00 dollars for a DNA kit to be mailed so after my DNA a search can be started ??

  5. Laurice Johnson

    For one Christmas, I made family history scrapbooks for our son and his three cousins that included not only my side of the family, but also their Mom’s and/or Dad’s side. I inherited ALL of the family photos, letters, scrapbooks, etc and wanted to share with my siblings’ children. I had their grandparents and parents each write something about what life was like when they were the kids’ ages so that they could get an idea of what life was like “in the old days”. I included 4-generation pedigree charts, migration maps, copies of old photos, stories I had heard from my grandmothers and biographies of some of their ancestors. Each book was 40-60 pages and my husband has asked me NOT to tell him how much it cost to produce each one! Of course their value is priceless and even though the kids were teenagers, they each spent time reading their book and ask questions not only to me, but also to their parents and grandparents.

  6. Gail Cline Schulman

    I have learned a lot through
    Ancestry ! I have did my family
    Tree & it actually goes back to
    Many generations ! I have many
    Old photos of them today &
    My late fathers service in
    WWII ! I just wished that
    Hadn’t taken the military
    Off of Ancestry it was so
    Beautiful !

  7. Trisha

    For my brother in laws 75th birthday I made him a calendar with the family information but each month I had pictures of him from the earliest ones that we had from various family members right up to present day. It would also work as a gift for mom showing her life from the earliest pictures you could get up until the present. It also helps to put comments along side the pictures.

  8. Judith

    I was adopted at approx. 6 weeks of age. I found out after I had given birth to my daughter in 1992 while reading a report I had requested from the adoption agency that I had several siblings. I prayed I would meet them one day. This past November I ordered a test kit from Ancestry. My result notification arrived via email May 1st, not quite a week ago. I sent a quick inquiry to the first two possible connections. Within 2 hours I knew my history! My Mother passed away in 2002. I am 58 and this will be the first
    Mothers Day I know her name, Ruth. It’s too late to make her something but I look forward to spending eternity with her. I will have the opportunity to meet my family in a few weeks. I am overwhelmed to say the least. My sister in Georgia didn’t even know I existed, we are both thrilled to find each other. I look forward to creating special gifts for them. Thank you to everybody at Ancestry. God is so good!

    • Member Services Social Support Team

      @Judith: Thank you so much for sharing this with us, we can imagine how overwhelming it has been but we’re so glad to hear that you were able to find your family and that you will get to meet each other for the first time soon. We wish you all the best!

  9. Janet

    I didn’t receive any information except the family name if my fathers family before it was shortened to mandy

  10. Cathy Valentine

    My brother and I have DNA results that are similar but not the same. The difference being his shows Ireland and mine does not. Can you tell me how they would differ?

  11. Patrick Valentine

    My wife and her brother have DNA results that are similar but not the same. The difference being his shows Ireland and hers does not. Can you tell me how they would differ?

  12. “My parents can buy anything they want, but when I take the time to do something that’s personal to them, that’s what means the most,” Very Nice!

  13. Hannah Cecil

    I believe anybody that owns 100% of your heart is worth fighting for. Yes, I am boasting because I never adhered to some negative advice from my parents when I was about getting married. There was a war between our two family then because my husband was his mother puppy, his family members used him a lot that he cant make any decision without consulting them. What surprised me most was the moment a 36-year-old man seeks his parent and some family members consent before dating anyone, the worst happened when he was instructed to bring me along to their country home in N. Rampart, New Orleans, it was risky to accept such invitation.
    The war between our families started when he finally proposed (that was about 4 years ago), his family gave some conditions if he must wife me (we have to live with them), I was in shock when my husband accepted and was happy with their conditions (so crazy). My family wagged and demanded I should breakup with him immediately.
    I decided to give him the last shot as a man whom has already taken over 100% of my heart, I took a risk to go spiritual with them by consulting Dr. Wakina via dr.wakinalovetemple at gmail. com, I dont know how but the spiritual father already knew I was going to consult him. He first of all told me danger I was into and how my husband has been enslaved since birth, how they keep brain washing him to do their wills.
    Like the quote that says a person sees clearly only with the heart, I realized that nobody saw what I sees in my husband and thats why I used the help of Dr. Wakina to put him out of his misery. His eyes where opened by Dr. Wakina for the first time, his family fell in love with me and granted every of our request, our families have known peace since after the love spell. It is over 2 years after the love spell and my husband has continued to improve every day without interference from his family. I have waited too long to share this amazing piece. Thanks for your time and also to Dr. Wakina. I knew him through ready some amazing testimonies on blogs.

  14. Julie Joyner

    Ms. Joyner, says”tankhyou”.
    (THANK YOU, MRS. Rockow).
    The Huffines’ (Ron and Julie, Misty and Family(ies).
    Thank You.
    Love and Misses.

  15. Denise

    Jasmine Rockow – Great ideas you have for Mother’s Day. I also love genealogy. I have a suggestion also find something you & your mother enjoy doing together and do it because time is so precious. My mother & I enjoy doing puzzles together (starting with finding all the end pieces then placing a puzzle piece into the puzzle frame & enjoying the time spent doing it together) It is time spent learning more family history. I wish all Mothers, Grandmothers & Great Grandmothers a Happy Mother’s Day! To others that have lost your mothers – please remember to continue to honor & celebrate their memory.

    Also, I wish people that comment or give feedback would stay on the subject of matter.

  16. Lois d Michael

    I have a question. Why it it that when, I click on the matches between myself and a cousin, the results will appear and disappears at the same time? It’s so quick, that you never get the chance to see what’s actually being revealed!!

  17. Debbie Sterba

    Where are my results? I sent in January. Maybe as your business increases, you may want to get some additional help to keep up with demand. After paying and sending in sample, we should not have to wait almost 6 months.

    Debbie Sterba

  18. Sara barahona

    I love ancestry .com you are very informative and professional thank you for your wisdom and love. Peace. Sara

  19. sharon eileen sanders

    I am the yngst of 7 children. By ten yrs from next oldest. I have been blessed by a distant cousin who traced my mothers family back to 550ad! However my dad was very closemouthed about his family & only told me when i was 13 that he was born on a reservation in new mexico & that his mom was navajo & his father was from the creek tribe. I pestered him for more info but he would only say he left the rez at 14 & never looked back. He lied about his age to try to join the army but was turned away due to flat feet. The merchant marines took him & he fell in love with the sea. He was a dairyman by trade but a fisherman at heart. His name was henry clyde sanders. He had brothers named reuben, joe, leonard and a sister named doris who married bruce nobles. He met my mom at pensacola naval base. Her name was mary eve andrews & was related to the guilfords of ozark alabama. Please if anyone knows anything about my dad & his family I would be so grateful to be informed. You see, he was born in 1918 & passed in 1979. My mom lived to be 92 & unfortunately she & three of my sibs have passed in past couple of yrs. Sadly those of us remaining dont speak to each other for reasons i dont understand. Perhaps info of our origins may begin to build a bridge between us. Im unsure but his moms name may have been ella faire. I wish i knew more. Any clue would be so appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this. May the Great Spirit bless you & keep you & your loved ones safe.

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