Family History Gift Giving
Most of us already have our gift giving well in hand for this year. Yes, there will be some last minute purchases, but for the most part we are almost done (or hope to soon be done). However, next year will soon be upon us and with it the pressure of holiday gift giving all over again.
Because one of our greatest desires is to give significant gifts, may I suggest that we consider giving of our past when we give next time. Let me explain.
Almost all of us span six or seven generations. By this I mean that we knew our grandparents (and sometimes our great-grandparents) which is three-four generations on our ancestor side. Most of us will live to see our grandchildren and sometimes our great-grandchildren. That is another three-four generations on our descendant side. We are the link that will keep the memories of our past alive in the future of our descendants. So, let’s help them to know their ancestors and let’s consider doing this during the holiday season.
Some of us have inherited family history photos. Most of us have letters and documents from those now gone. And almost all of us have delayed again and again getting this information prepared and passed on. While each one of these items is precious, it is useless unless it is shared. And so the piles, files, and boxes of treasure gnaw at us to be preserved and shared, but they often sit untouched.
May I suggest that even as you are enjoying this year’s holiday season, you begin thinking which of your precious family history items you would like to use as a significant present for next year’s gift giving?
Let me share several ideas. Sometimes I have been the recipient of such gifts and other times I’ve used family history projects as gifts or want to do so in the future.
One easy way to begin sharing significant family history items is to print and frame the photo of a noteworthy past event that includes ancestors you revere. For myself, I once received a nicely framed and notated photo of my paternal grandmother holding my youthful father as the Jesus in a nativity scene. Thus I have two ancestor’s photos readily at hand to enjoy myself and share with family and friends.
You have such photos, too, that you have always want to preserve. Get them duplicated, notated, and framed multiple times and you will have a gift of legacy and love from your past to give your future.
It is likely that someone in your past has kept a journal, even a short one, that can be transcribed, printed and shared. It might even be the simple slip of paper that they wrote on before they died or a simple testimony that might have been preserved as their health failed.
For myself, I desire to reproduce, frame, and share with my siblings and nieces/nephews a simple note my mother prepared and left for my father even as her health failed her as a brain tumor took the life from her limbs and mouth. It was found shortly after her death. It states simply in shaky handwriting, “I love you. I appreciate the part you have played in my life and the lives of our children, I appreciate your patience and understanding, your thoughtfulness and long-suffering. I have a testimony.”
Thus the legacy of my mother’s testimony and what mattered most to her in the last days of her life can be shared with her maturing grandchildren. It can be a significant gift to her descendants.
Before my father passed away, he prepared a simple history of his service in the military during Word War II with the help of one of his grandchildren. It wasn’t sophisticated, but it is a document of value and can now be printed professionally and given to his children and grandchildren, especially those who might be serving their country or contemplating doing so in the near future.
There are probably several such precious documents in your family history stash, too, that would be useful and meaningful gifts in an upcoming holiday season. It might be a yellowed marriage certificate, the trust deed to your grandparent’s home, or the temple recommend of your great-grandfather. With professional duplication, such a treasure can be shared with future generations.
Sometimes, there will be few enough descendants that the actual treasure can be shared with them. Often, it will be useful to have the treasure secured in such a way that it is notated and capable of easy display. This is where the value of shadow boxes comes in. I remember a friend who had shadow-boxed several items belonging to her grandmother, along with the photos of this precious ancestor. This gift was given to her only daughter who appreciated the items and their preservation and was able to display these items for her own young children to enjoy.
Almost any significant occasion produces treasures and when added to a photo and framed makes for a great holiday gift.
Lastly, you may consider putting together either an audio file or a video production of past events for your family. One sensitive relative, just at the time of our youngest son’s relapse from leukemia, came to the hospital and video-taped the room, our son and some of his simple antics, and several older relatives (now deceased) that were visiting at the time. That video was given to us as a holiday gift and remains a precious memory now that Evan is gone.
Family history gift giving is gift giving of the most significant kind. Because you are the link from the past to the future, I encourage to you to carefully think how the treasures that you own might be useful to the descendants you have, especially if you duplicate, notate, and preserve them carefully with the thought to share them as holiday gifts.
Happy gift giving!
Phots from sxc.hu and google images. Used with permission of sontran.