Family History Gift Follow-Up

gift boxes.jpgThanks to everyone who wrote in with holiday gift ideas following last week’s articles written by Maureen Taylor and me Family History Gift Ideas  and Highway to the Holidays.

With Thanksgiving behind us and holiday gift planning well underway, as promised, today’s column features some of the ideas that came in from you. So without further ado, here we go:

I heard from several readers who created family calendars to give as gifts. Rose Parks in Texas has used themes for the photos she uses. She wrote, “One year the theme was a baby photo and then a much later one of many in the family. Last year I did photos and also put a document they had written or signed on the page.”

Blanche in Idaho, used her PAF genealogy software to create a calendar with the names and ages of people included in her database. Family Tree Maker includes this ability, as do some other software programs. In FTM, open the file you wish to create a calendar for and under the View menu, select “Calendar.” From there you can customize what you want included (using the Contents menu), and the appearance (using the Format menu). Nancy Miller in Florida created a similar calendar and noted that the family was “glad to have all the dates in one place.”

Pat Bayonne-Johnson added a new twist to her calendars. She said, “We included a couple copies of census schedules, photos of every generation from the great-grandparents to the grandchildren and copies of certificates with the results for mtDNA and Y-DNA tests.” For the other side of the family she tells us, “We have decided to make a calendar of photos from the family reunion which was held in New Orleans in 2003. Many of their homes and photos were destroyed by Katrina, so I think that the calendars would be greatly appreciated by all.”

Custom calendars can be created using various programs, including Print Shop, Microsoft Publisher, Adobe PhotoShop Elements, and many others. Photo-developing services also often offer calendars for sale, using photographs from your collection that you select. site holders can easily create calendars for $14.95 using photographs and events stored on their site. Just log in to the site and click on the link below the photo on the homepage.

Mug Shot Chart
Don Monaghan posted a great tip on the blog, where he says, “Usually my family has absolutely no interest in genealogy. However, at our last family gathering I was able to generate some interest. I’ve been collecting family ‘mug shots’ (pictures of peoples’ faces) and putting them into my genealogy program. For this family gathering I used the program to print out a seven- or eight-generation family tree that included a mug shot for each person for whom I’d been able to get a picture. My uncle posted it in a conspicuous place and it generated a lot of interest and conversation. Everyone looked over the chart and commented on it. There were frequently groups of people at the chart discussing relatives and telling stories that came to mind when they saw a person’s picture. Having the pictures on the chart was the key. That made it a lot more interesting to everyone, including those who hate the mention of genealogy. A couple of older relatives, who ended up really enjoying telling family stories, said they wouldn’t have even bothered to look at the chart if it had been just a bunch of names and dates. The kids were especially thrilled to see their faces on the chart.”

Family History Books
Charlotte Watts Pennell started a tradition of giving family history books as gifts as a way to preserve her son’s baby pictures, and has branched out to include family trees. She has expanded the project giving them to her nephews as wedding presents, and says, “It’s a lot of work, but I get a lot of satisfaction in knowing I am passing my history down.”

Martha Edwards is writing a similar book for her daughter, “with stories of memories of her from the time she was an infant, to when she went to school,” including photos with the stories that include “the happy, not so happy, and the funny parts.”

Marge Clark’s book has a slightly different twist. She researched and put together a book for each of her children on Christmas in Germany through the years, including photos of the family’s German ancestors. She tells us, “The grandchildren enjoy the book too.”

From Our “Crafty” Readers
Ann Melugin Williams is working on a cross-stitch family tree for her granddaughter and reports, “I let her watch me stitch her name onto it and she was thrilled.”

Jane Sherratt also wrote to tell about how she’s sharing a family heirloom with family members. She says, “I inherited my great-grandmother Rachel’s comforter made of old woolens. It is heavy and there are moth holes and patches that someone made along the way. As I found out more about it, I realized my parents and grandparents had used it too. I carefully took it apart to make four sections of twelve or sixteen squares and had them quilted to new padding and backing. I found a photo of Rachel and her log cabin, which I put on muslin to attach to the backing in the form of a pocket. Then I wrote ‘Rachel’s Story’ to put in the pocket. My niece and nephews will each get a piece of their great-great-grandmother’s quilt to hang on their walls. I treasure every moth hole and hope they do, too!”

Sally Fuhr has been sewing outfits for her sons since they were little and has kept the ones that provoke the fondest memories. She plans to mount them in shadowbox frames, along with photos of them wearing the outfits and the story behind them.

I’m reviving an old decorating tradition this year too. When we were little we had several of those old pixie elves with the plastic face and stuffed felt bodies. When it came time to decorate, my mom would hide the pixies. I remember them peeking out from behind a canister, sitting on a chandelier, or atop the curtains. My sisters and I would make a game of searching for them every year. I found a couple of them cheap on eBay this year and am hoping to revive the game with my daughter, nieces, and nephews this Christmas.

Jerrie Sanders posted to the blog that someone he knows takes “all the old baby spoons, baby shoes, etc., and puts them on their Christmas tree.”

I was amazed at all the responses I got regarding my failed attempt of making the Pennsylvania favorite breakfast meat, Scrapple (with Curt Miller humorously noting, “If your attempt to make scrapple resulted in a ‘congealed mass,’ you probably got it right.”)

Several kind readers also pointed me in the direction of companies that sell Scrapple. (My husband thanks you for saving him from another culinary disaster!) I’m listing them below for others who are interested. I have ordered the canned Scrapple from Vermont Country Store in the past, which according to my husband, is close but not quite what he remembers. I haven’t tried the others, so I can’t attest for the quality or authenticity, but am including them based on the recommendations I received, and in fact, am trying one of the new vendors myself.

Jean Chastain Milam in Oklahoma sent me her mother’s recipe for Scrapple, which I’m reprinting with her permission below. She remarked, “This recipe is much easier than the way she made it, as she cooked the pig’s head. Ugh!”

1 lb. bulk sausage
3 chicken bouillon cubes
3 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup corn meal (I prefer white corn meal.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed thyme

In an electric skillet set at 350 degrees, brown the sausage slowly stirring to break it into small pieces. Drain off the fat and dissolve bouillon into the boiling water. Add to sausage and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in mixture of corn meal, salt, and thyme. Cook for ten minutes stirring constantly. Pour into greased 4” x 8” x 2” baking loaf pan. Chill over night in refrigerator. Slice in 1/2 inch pieces, dip in corn meal, and fry in a small amount of butter or oil about eight minutes on each side. Serve with butter and syrup.

Thanks again to everyone who shared their ideas. If you have an idea you’d like to share, add it to the Comments section on the blog.

Juliana Smith has been an editor of newsletters for more than eight years and is author of “The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book.” She has written for “Ancestry” Magazine and wrote the Computers and Technology chapter in “The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy,” rev. 3rd edition. Juliana can be reached by e- mail at [email protected], but she regrets that her schedule does not allow her to assist with personal research.

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12 thoughts on “Family History Gift Follow-Up

  1. My mother found, among her inherited family treasures, two completed quilt blocks of the Mariner’s Compass design. Included with the blocks was a note in her mother’s handwriting, stating that these had been quilted by my great-great-grandmother. My mother carefully washed each block and then had each matted and framed. A notation as to who, where, when was placed on the back of the frame. My sister and I are the happy recipients of these beautiful pieces of our family history.

  2. I was frustrated trying to get photos of family members for a family tree. I sent out another plea with a “treat” that I would just ask the DMV for their pictures..AND we all know how wonderful those pictures are…. That got their attention… Got lots of pictures that way.

  3. According to my Uncle (1/2 German Lutheran and 1/2 Lancaster County Mennonite), “when they kill the hogs, you sweep up afterwards. Make sure you get the sawdust. Slice it thin and fry it brown. Serve it with over easy eggs, fresh brown bread, and still warm fresh milk. Das Gut!”

  4. I wanted to tell you about a family tree gift that was very, very well received.

    My father’s cousin, Nancy, has always been more like an aunt to me than a cousin. She is now 89 and housebound. For Christmas last year, I purchased a small tabletop white feather tree (similar to those that the Germans used). I also ordered many small silverplated picture frame ornaments, which hang from the tree by black satin ribbons.

    I copied pictures of all her immediate family, her late husband, sons, their wives and her cherished granddaughter. I put them into the frames and positioned them on the tree with her husband at the top, descending to her sons, then their wives and her granddaughter. Later, we added one of her to sit next to the one of her husband.

    The tree is elegant, and she displays it all year long. It was one of the best gifts I could give her. She can be close to all those she loves and look at them, all together, every day.

    The feather tree was such a success that I am making a larger version of it for my family this year. I have photos and copies of portraits of some ancestors going back to the 1600’s, so the tree will be full of interesting faces. My two beautiful children will be right on top, followed by my husband and me, our parents, their parents, and as many back as I have. I will add a small silver jewelry tag to each picture, with the name, birth and death dates.

    I can email you a photo of my cousin Nancy’s tree, if you would like.

    Thank you for a wonderful weekly genealogy newsletter. I certainly learn something new with each one.

    Christine Roberts Czarnecki
    Palo Alto, CA

  5. Just had to add an idea for a family tree I made for my husbands family reunion. I drew a tree on a large poster board and covered the trunk with contact paper like a tree. At the bottom I put a copy of his grandparents wedding picture and names Then each branch was labled with their seven childrens names, the leaves were their grandchildren, the flowers in pink or blue were their great grandchildren and finally their great great grandchildren were butterflies with their names on them and next to the leaf they came from. It filled the board and was funn to see how a family can grow from one couple to hundreds for individuals. The different shapes made it easy to follow generations. Barb

  6. I recommend Habbersetts. Make sure you cut it thick, dredge it in flour and cook in Crisco shortening. You want to make sure you cook it on high at first, then turn heat down to medium or it will burn.

  7. Habbersetts is definitely the best scrapple. But don’t dredge it in flour. Cut it in fairly thin slices and fry it over medium heat in a little oil or butter. It’s good with catsup or apple butter.
    They make really good sausage, too. No MSG in either product.

  8. My Mom and Dad wrote during WWII, from 1941 until they were married in 1945. Dad was National Guard during high school. They were activated right after he graduated. He was all over the USA, England, and was wounded in the battle of St. Lo in France.
    Mom gave me permission to put the letters together in a book (255 pages). I wrote an introduction, put genealogy from each side, wrote the story of how they met, pictures of their parents & siblings, pictures of them in various stages of life, and pictures of their children at various ages, besides their letters. I even scanned severl letter so they could see what V-mail looked like. This will be Christmas gifts this year. My hope is that it will last through many generations and connect with future generations in our family.

  9. Pingback: Family History Gift Follow-Up :: Newstack

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