I remember when I was younger, my elderly aunt would complain about "another china mug" or "another dust collector" when someone gave her a gift, not knowing quite what to get for someone of her age and stage of life.
I started collecting old photos when I started genealogy. I have amassed hundreds, perhaps a thousand family photos. When I saw the joy, the pure unadulterated joy, that the gift of our family history book gave to my aunts and uncles, I knew that from that moment on, if a gift I gave them didn't create tears of joy and memories, it wasn't worth giving.
It was so enriching for them to have a solid, tangible connection to their past. Something they could show off with pride and something to be treasured so that future generations could also enjoy it. At first, I started doing scrapbooks.
I would do small books and personalize them to include the life story and photos of the recipient.
From there, I graduated to personalized calendars. They have been a huge hit and something everyone looks forward to each year. This year, thanks to the MyMemories digital scrapbooking software and my Flip Pal mobile scanner, I have been able to incorporate scrapbooking along with the personalized calendars.
I can't wait for the reactions on Christmas when the calendars are opened and the product is all so new again.
As family historians, we hold the pictures, the documents and the stories. The greatest gifts we can give are to share the stories in meaningful ways with the relatives that are still here with us.