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Start Your Genealogy Christmas in July

Start Your Genealogy Christmas in July

Every holiday season comes and goes much quicker than I expected. I have the best of intentions in the late summer months, but then before I know it, we are celebrating a new year.

Family historians are the keepers of the family stories. One of the "job" duties is to share what we know with others. The holiday season is a great time to do that. But it's also a difficult time with obligations, family gatherings, and unexpected illnesses that have us down for the count for a week.

Do you want to make this the Christmas you share your family history? July is the perfect time to start. Even if you think the Summer is way too early to think about the holidays, I can assure you that they will be here sooner than you think, and just like last year, you may not be ready (or at least I'm not).

July is an excellent time to ask what type of holiday gift you want to give. Settling on an idea is half the battle. Possible gifts include:

  • Family Tree Charts (with or without photos)
  • Family History Book (one person, one ancestral couple, or more)
  • Digitized family photos
  • Transcribing family letters or diaries

Now these are ideas that you can probably complete with the help of your genealogy software, scanner, or just your time. Some gifts will require professionals, whether a professional genealogist, a company that sells printed charts, or one that scans media. You may also choose a more crafted gift requiring someone who is a quilter, woodworker, or other provider.

Once you know what you want to do, consider the time it will take.

  • How long will it take you to update your family history before sharing?
  • How long will it take you to create the item? (always assume it will take at least twice as long)
  • How long will it take any other providers who are part of the process? When do they need the item by?
  • How long will it take to mail and receive the item before the holidays?

Now consider what stands in the way of you completing the gift.

  • Do you routinely get sick during the winter months (I do!)
  • Do you have any travel scheduled?
  • Are you hosting any family gatherings?
  • Do you have family or work obligations?
  • When do you want to be done with your family history gift?

Answering these questions now will help you be prepared to share your family history gift with your family. If this all overwhelms you, consider a small gift, like a newsy Christmas letter. It's not the amount of money or time you spend; it's sharing your family history with others so that they can learn more about your shared family history. Who knows, they may even have information or a photo that can help you as you continue your genealogical journey.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.




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