08:13 AM

Holiday Giving: The Priceless Gift of Family History


It was nearly 100 years before DNA tests could tell us with precision about our exact family history that short story writer William Sydney Porter, “O.Henry,” illustrated family love and the spirit of sacrifice in his wonderful work, “The Gift of the Magi.” In that story, a young couple separately sold their most prized possessions to have the wherewithal to purchase something special for the other. The Magi in the title referred to the rich and wise said to have bestowed gifts upon the baby Jesus.

During the holidays, if we want to give long lasting and even transformational gifts, we can easily prepare family history-related offerings even as we have the privilege of gathering with and remembering family members. (In fact, many of our distant ancestors were married on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve because Christmas was one of about three work holidays during the year.)

Meaningful Family History Gifts

We can share treasured family artifacts and documents, or custom calendars or booklets filled with historic family history photos. We can create videos of our family activities this year so that children and grandchildren can see, 50+ years hence, how the family sounded, how it interacted, and what it treasured during the holidays.

Do we have any new grandchildren in the family? If we haven’t done so already, we can “document ourselves,” providing something as simple as a typed four-page personal history of our own lives that will delight descendants in a different era. We can have a family or individual portrait made. And some of these gifts may also be shared with the broader family circle across the world through Facebook, family trees, and broader social media. In fact, we can create private family history or reunion Facebook pages to continue the sharing.