How I Share, me

Catching Up & A Special Gift

Me, at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, California

March & April have been bananas for me!  March started off while I was at RootsTech.  I had a week of catch up and then I was off to Washington to help my Mom & Auntie V.  Then the first week of April was Spring Break and our California adventure.  And then, I buried myself with a bigger than expected project.

My amazing oldest

You see, my amazing oldest son, who is serving as a missionary, is about to turn 20.  He is a happy, fun-loving kid who inspired this funny photoshop creation.  He really is the center person.  A friend put his head over the two Sister Missionaries heads.  It was Valentine’s Day in this photo and a nice old man had purchased flowers for the Sister Missionaries and somehow my funny boy was asked to hand them the flowers, and from there, we got this delightful creation.

But, back to his upcoming birthday.  I asked him what he wanted or needed.  He said he wanted nothing now, and requested that I just save a little money for him to buy new clothes when he gets home.  An understandable request.  But it’s like he didn’t know who he was talking to.  😉

Of course, I couldn’t do nothing to mark the end of his teenage years!  I’m a fan of meaningful gifts.  So after plenty of mulling, I decided he would be getting 20 gifts of 20 items to celebrate his passage into his twenties.  Now if you are thinking that is basically the exact opposite of what he requested you would kind of be right.  But most of the gifts cost absolutely nothing.  Or almost nothing.

As a family, we put together several things like – 20 jokes, 20 ridiculous pieces of advice, 20 birthday wishes and so on.  The two items that took me the most time were 20 favorite memories of him and 20 ancestor cards.  For the 20 favorite memories, I made a list of several off the top of my head, but I even went through some journals and typed up a few entries that were especially sweet.

And then we get to the gift that was my favorite.  Twenty ancestor cards.  Ahhhhh.  Genealogy gifts are my favorite.  The ancestor cards were created using Adobe Illustrator.  I then printed them as 4×6 photos at Costco.   Here are two of the cards I created:

mary brown young ancestor card-01

seth maffit ancestor card-01

I simplified things to try to appeal to my son.  I reduced place names to city & state or city & country.  I shared some highlights from the person’s life.  Things I thought might interest my son a bit.  I intentionally chose ancestors who were immigrants, some type of pioneer, or someone who overcame big challenges.  I wanted him to see how diverse our family history is.  I wanted him to be able to draw some strength from his ancestors’ stories.  I hope this gift will be interesting and meaningful to him.  But the good news is that I LOVED making it.  So even if it isn’t his favorite, it was worth the time I spent.  Now I need to go back over them and perfect them a bit and share them with my siblings.

Now that the 20 gifts of 20 things are all done and in the mail, and I’m back home for a while, I have some serious catching up to do!  I’m behind on everything.  😉



Happy Friday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery this weekend!  xoxo



ps – I’m sorry I haven’t been around to read any of your wonderful posts in a few months.  Hopefully, I’ll be back to my normal routine again soon!  I’ve missed hearing about your genealogy successes.  <3



30 thoughts on “Catching Up & A Special Gift”

  1. What a great idea doing “20 of” different things. I’d love to know which ones he enjoyed most.

    The photo had me for a moment. Before I read what you’d written, I thought “er… eh..? But these are… triplets.. no, they’re not… wait…!” The penny began to drop when I realised it was one person and a boy… !! (You can tell I got up late today, can’t you?) I’m glad you explained!

    1. Thank you, Ellen! I think I might print them and put them in those inexpensive little photo albums that are plastic and just show one photo at a time. It might be a great thing to add to my church bag as an item for my kiddos to help them stay quiet. 🙂

  2. I also thought those were triplets! Thanks for explaining—very cute!

    So are your children interested in genealogy? Or do they just humor you like mine do? I hope he appreciates the cards—they’re wonderful. My older daughter STILL hasn’t read Pacific Street. At least my husband and younger daughter did!

    1. Funny, right?! I was a bit confused at first too and he’s my kid. 😉

      Yes, they just humor me. But the older they get, the more interest they have. So I just keep it simple, but frequent.

      What?! I can’t imagine not reading a book my Mom wrote. But maybe that is in part a reflection of the fact my Mom has never written a book. 😉

      1. My younger daughter read it, which really touched me; the older one has two young kids and a full time job—but still!

  3. Love the ancestor cards. You’ve included plenty of information about the person without overwhelming with detail. Something like this would be great for spurring some interest in a person who hasn’t paid much attention to their family connections. I know my spouse would find something like this more approachable than the usual genealogical reports and I suspect the kids would too. I did a quick chart for the oldest stepson (his mother more or less dumped him on my spouse as there was no blood relation and we raised him after our marriage along with the other four children she walked out on) and he was just shocked that he could see 14 generations of people who came before him and his children. He did say how sad it was that there was only a surname on his biological father’s side and that his mother refused to tell him anything about the man and he thought he has a right to know at least more than a last name especially for his children’s sake.

    1. Thank you! I spend a lot of time trying to find simple ways to get my children, and nieces and nephews to get to know our ancestors. Things that will hopefully spark an interest without being overwhelming.
      Some of those things work well, others don’t. I hope this one will be great!

      That is too bad that she never told him who his father was. Has he DNA tested? He may be able to figure it out that way.

      1. No he hasn’t DNA tested, it’s unlikely his biological father ever did either. I’ve tried talking to his mother and asking of she’d tell me about the man, but she wouldn’t. I do know a few things about her and her family and have a couple suspicions. Not anything I’d ever mention to her kids – they know quite enough as it is about her.

        1. Well, it doesn’t matter if his biological father has tested or not. He likely has a family member who has. My 1st cousin, that no one knew about, matched me and my mom and we were able to figure out who his father was. If it’s really important to him, he may want to consider testing. Ancestry & FamilyTreeDNA all have sales right now for DNA Day (it lasts for about ten total days, can’t remember when it started). Good luck. Complicated family relationships make genealogy work a bit trickier to navigate. He is lucky to have you in his life. <3

        2. Aquilla, I don’t think his father “had” to have been DNA tested. Anyone in his male line up, and over, brothers, or then down, cousin’s nephews, etc would match. Basically any male relative above or across from him will show a match. I’ve read varying degrees of generations, anywhere from 4 generations back to 6 or 7. OK, I hear you saying, but they aren’t even alive. Yes, that’s my point! ANY of their descendants will match. So the farther back that DNA is, the more descendants there are to match and the higher the % is there will be a match. Amberly can probably tell you which test kit is better, whether yDNA or the cousin finder.

          Also, he might qualify get a free DNA kit for adoptees from MyHeritage. They’re running a free DNA test program to help adoptees find their birth parents/parents. Not sure what their definition of adoptees is, but it’s worth a try:

          Offer ends April 30th

          1. I’ve sent him the information. It’s in his hands from here on out. For myself, I’d want to know and it’d bother me even if I wasn’t inclined to meet any biological relations. I’d want the kids to know too. Considering the family of his mother, I have my doubts that any of them would consider DNA testing and if his father’s people are similar, I doubt they would either. However, as you say, you never know. As to my suspicions, I know there was some very questionable behavior with his mother’s family (she was adopted by her paternal grandparents and “raised” with her father as her brother) and my spouse (her ex) has told me some things that leave me wondering about the biological father and the very ambiguous surname given for him. Anyway, I’ve sent the information on and will eventually find out if he decided to test or not. I appreciate the input.

          2. I would go with an autosomal test to start, a y test could also help, but an autosomal test is likely to solve it faster and with less expense given all the circumstances.

  4. I loved your gift idea! It’s really neat that your 20-yr-old son would appreciate the 20 ancestor cards! Sounds like a great kid–adult.

    1. Thank you, Su! Well, in fairness to you… my boy is living out of three suitcases and doesn’t need any “stuff” taking up room he doesn’t have. So I had to get a lot more creative. 😉

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