Our family had decided to downsize the number of gifts this Christmas and focus instead on enjoying each other's company and celebrating the season together. Admittedly there was still a bit of overflow of “stocking stuffers” (not everything was able to fit in a stocking), but nothing went over budget. So this approach proved very successful and less stressful. The last present that Terry opened on Christmas morning was inside a flat rectangular orange box, too big for the stocking. “What’s this?” he asked, but I kept silent while he opened the box. “Oh, it’s a ME book!!!” he exclaimed with a huge smile. He had uncovered a customized, hard covered photo book about himself and his extended family that I had created. Looking carefully through the pages, he remarked “I haven’t seen some of these pictures in a long long time. This is wonderful!” The gift was obviously a bigger hit than I thought it would be.
Gradually a theme presented itself, and I decided to make Terry the focal point of the new book and save it as a Christmas present. The title became “Terry Boorman’s Family”. Terry's childhood naturally included his parents and sister. As Terry’s life also includes his marriage and his children (no grandchildren yet), I also needed to add the younger generation to the book. And finally I decided to include his parents’ siblings and Terry’s grandparents. I was important for me to include all those relatives who had affected Terry's life, as well as information on his more recent heritage.
The front cover shows three different photos of Terry: as a toddler, a young man, and after retirement. The back cover shows a grid of nine photos of his extended family throughout the years, including his childhood home. And the 48 pages between the covers contain a large variety of colour and black and white photos with captions and short descriptive paragraphs. One of the first pages includes a “picture family tree” page, showing thumbnail-sized head shots in four rows, one for each generation: grandparents, parents, siblings and cousins.
Three more pages in the book were dedicated to Terry’s father of Bill BOORMAN, including his service in WWII in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserves. Four pages were devoted to Terry’s THOMAS grandparents and relatives: Ivor John THOMAS, Lily Mary YEOMANS and their five children. Terry’s mother Lillian Joyce THOMAS was their youngest.
I spent most of the month of August creating this book, then ordered it online, successfully hiding it until Christmas. So it was a total surprise. Terry wanted to show it to the family, so he brought the book along to a post-Christmas brunch at his sister’s place. Even the youngest child seemed interested in looking at the photos and learning more about their family history. They saw pictures of themselves and others at various ages, reinforcing memories of happy family gatherings. It's amazing how young we all looked!
I think such self-published books are an excellent way of preserving old family photos and information, as well as kindling interest in family heritage among family members. And I am glad that this particular family photo memory book was so well received this Christmas.
Happy New Year to one and all! Here's wishing you happy family times and successful genealogy research in 2016.
families elsewhere on this website.
"52 Ancestors" is a reference to the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge I am participating in.
Reference the No Story Too Small blog by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow for more details.
It is giving me the much needed incentive to write and publish my family stories.