Dec 9, 2022

Christmas and Genealogy

December 9, 2022

I don’t know about you, but I love to share genealogy-related gifts with my family and friends at this time of the year. Most of them are not genealogists, so I know that their tolerance for family history only stretches so far. There are a few things that everyone seems to enjoy, genealogist or not.


Over the years I’ve made dozens of calendars. I’ve used all sorts of genealogically based themes including photos of various ancestors, family pets, old recipe cards and many others. It’s also fun to add birthdays for family members – either for current relatives or even for ancestors who are long gone.


You can find templates to make your own calendars and then print them out. I find it easier to use one of the online services such as Shutterfly or Snapfish which walk me through the design process and then print out the final product.


Calendars are especially nice gifts for the older members of the family. These are often the folks who have either already downsized or soon will. They just don’t need any more “stuff.” One year I gave my dad a wall calendar with photos of his siblings as well as his grandparents and aunts and uncle. He loved it. He said it was like reliving his youth each month.


If you are the keeper of the family memories for your clan, Christmas is a good time to share the wealth with your younger relatives. I often make fudge, divinity or cookies and send them to my nieces and nephews. I use the same recipes that my grandmothers and mother used. I enclose a copy of the recipe and write up a brief paragraph about when and why their ancestors made each recipe. I like to write down a memory about the originator of the recipe, too.


One year I made divinity for my family. I wrote about how my mom made it every year at Christmastime. Unlike today’s cooks, she never used a candy thermometer. In my early memories she made the divinity completely by hand. Divinity requires a lot of beating to set up, but Mom didn’t have a mixer. I remember her beating for what seemed like hours to get the candy to set. Sometimes it didn’t; it stubbornly remained the consistency of frosting. Frustrated, but undeterred, she baked a cake and frosted it with the almost-candy. Then she started another batch of divinity. She was determined to have that Christmas candy.


There’s still a little time before Christmas. Think about making some cookies or a calendar for younger family members. Even a copy of an old photo slipped into a Christmas card can be a special reminder of who your family is. Maybe one of your family memories will be the spark that lights someone in your clan to become a genealogist. You never know.


Carol Stetser