Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Embrace of Family Traditions

Several years ago, I wrote on the Chart Chick blog about one of my favorite Christmas traditions ( .  In my family, it is traditional to have English Trifle on Christmas Eve. I have British ancestry, and my Grandfather Darrell Dana loved it.  He loved all things custard and tapioca.  I get that from him.  We only have trifle on this one day of the year.  So it is really connected with Christmas to me. 

Christmas 1990 was my first Christmas away from home.  In fact, I was on the other side of the world.  My first marriage was falling apart and in those days you couldn't even call home much from so far away.  I was in the Middle East and the First Gulf War was about to break out.  It was a very stressful time.  I was lonely and it didn't seem like Christmas at all.  Some friends invited us over for Christmas Eve and when they brought out English Trifle for desert, it was like the heavens opened and the light shown down on my holiday.  It was a love note from home, from my ancestors, from the past.  Like a big warm hug.  The embrace of a Family Tradition.

When my Mom made trifle, year after year, she didn't know that she was sending that love note into the future.  But sometimes it is those little things that make those connections.  It can be those traditions and that shared history that ties us together.  Those are the pieces that make a family.  Traditions are part of the team narrative you have together.

This means so much more to me now that I have young adult children.  Next year, my eldest son will be the age I was in 1990.  All three of my kids are just about to leave the nest, and while I have them all home this Christmas, I find myself on the other side of this equation as the mother in the story. What have I done to create those bonds and establish the traditions that will bind my children to our family and fill their hearts with peace and love from us when they need it?  Like most well-intentioned mothers, I've made every mistake in the book.  And I'm trying to hug them enough right now.  But hopefully I've done enough that they will have those hugs from me in the future too.  Hopefully the right pieces will be there when they need it.

What are you doing in your family?  The holidays are a big time for traditions.  What are you doing this month to celebrate your family history and create a sense of heritage in your family?  Sometimes the best traditions are little ones that are practiced all through the year.  What will your family members have to embrace them during hard times?  Hug them now, but be intentional about the hugs you send into the future too.  My mom did, and I'm so thankful for that.

I'm bringing the trifle to our family gathering this Christmas Eve.  Thankfully my Mom and Dad will both be there and I'll get to share it with them and thank them again for this bit of light in my life.  How amazing that a simple thing like a trifle could mean so much. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Decorating with Family History for the Holidays.

 My daughter Rachel and I had a great time making a fun family history tree a couple of years ago.  We've enjoyed this tree so much in the years since.  I hope you'll allow me: proud Mom here. She created this video to give you some ideas for your own family history decorating.  Hopefully it will help you inspire your family with their heritage at this time of year.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Every Grandma Should Take Their Family To See "Coco"

They say that the Disney movie Coco makes you want to visit your grandmother and give her a big hug.  Well my Mom did it just right.  She bought tickets for the whole family to go see Coco together this morning.  And we all came out very grateful for her.

I had high expectations for the movie and I wasn't disappointed.  As I've written about before, I love Dia de Los Muertos.  It is a day for honoring your ancestors and remembering them.  What could be better than that?  And Disney has done a great job of that lately with Moana and now with Coco.

Kim and I were in Disneyland a couple of months ago and we had a great time looking around the Coco displays they had up.  It got me really excited for the movie. I love anything that will help you teach children about the value of family history. Even at Disneyland no less. Here are some photos from our trip:  

While we were there, a band and some dancers came out and sang the song "Remember Me"  And I just melted.  Such beautiful lyrics about our ancestors.  Love it Love it!

They had a tree of life display and everyone was able to add a remembrance of a family member.  I wrote about my Grandparents and the times we had at Disneyland together.  So many wonderful memories.  I can't go there without missing them.  

What a beautiful simple way to help so many people remember their ancestors.  

Some of the things I loved about the movie were 1) that all families have problems.  I love that they didn't gloss over some of the hard things families deal with.  2) that Family History heals the present.  Family History always helps the problems we have in the present.  Always.  3) That we should keep photos up of our family members and remember them.  That's why we love what we do at Family ChartMasters so much.  We're honored to help people keep their ancestors memories alive and in front of them every day.  And 4) I loved the music, the flowers and just the beauty of the movie.  

Highly recommended.  Take some family members.  And then spend some time together honoring your ancestors.  Good stuff!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Time Capsules

When the family gets together at the holidays, a fun activity can be creating a time capsule.  My kids and I have created time capsules at the end of the year for short term storage and then packed them away with the Christmas decorations.  We include goals for the year and reflections on the year past. It's fun to open them next Thanksgiving weekend when we get the decorations out. 

A time capsule is “a historic cache of goods or information, usually intended as a method of communication with future people” ( They are a great way to capture this moment in time for the future. Creating a time capsule can cause your family to pause now and reflect about what is important to them and what brought them to the point they are now. The creation of a time capsule can spark some good discussions in your family about what is important to you.
You can ask everyone in the family to contribute to a time capsule. They might want to contribute a tangible item, but also encourage them to add something that will really tell about their lives now. A personal note, pictures, or a schedule of what daily life is like could be really interesting down the road. The capsule can be any container as long as it is labeled and kept sealed in a safe place. And it needn’t be sealed for long. One year, five years, or ten years, can give the observer great perspective on life.

If you want a really safe time capsule container that will last a long time, check out:

And for complete instructions on creating long term archival time capsules check out the Smithsonian Institutions ideas at:

Good luck.  I'm sure it will cause lots of reflection for your family and give them a broader perspective on life--one of the best benefits of family history.  

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wait what? The Wall Street Journal?

I was going through the deep deep recesses of Facebook today and found some notifications from over a year ago.  And look at this...  I found we had been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal.  Who knew?  Aparently the author's sister had bought some of our books.

It is a great article about connecting with Grandchildren.  She is touting the use of family history as a Grandparenting tool.  We say that around here alot don't we?

Now, off to check on my Google Alerts...

And if you don't know what Google Alerts are, it is a great way to keep an eye out for interesting topics, people or geographical areas that are of interest in your family history.  You can set up a Google Alert, and when google finds something new, they send you an email. 

You can learn more about Google Alerts at or watch this video.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Zap the Grandma Gap Newsletter Reboot

Zap the Grandma Gap Family History Ideas 
We've recently relaunched The Zap the Grandma Gap  Weekly Newsletter with oodles of ideas about how to make family history fun for all of the members of your family.  With one idea a week every Tuesday morning for one year it is a great way to get fun ideas for your holiday get-togethers and beyond... 

My son has come to work for us and he is a cracker-jack programmer.  (Score for Mom!!)  He's been streamlining all of our processes and we put him to work making sure the newsletter system is super solid.  Slick emails to your inbox with great ideas.  Super simple. 
If you are looking for great ideas on how to share family history with your families, sign up for the Zap the Grandma Gap NEWSLETTER. You will receive one tip a week for a year and we promise you will be inspired!    

Monday, July 3, 2017

New from Family ChartMasters: Personalized Chart to Show Off DNA Test Results

DNA Chart
New Genealogy Chart Created for Showing Off DNA Test Results 
A beautiful new way to display the results of a genetic family history test has been created for the millions of people who are getting to know their ancestors through DNA testing.  Family ChartMasters, the genealogy chart printing leader for over 15 years, has designed a new DNA ethnicity chart to help family history enthusiasts show off their genetic heritage.  
"We hope that this new chart will help people who have become curious about their genealogy through DNA testing become even more excited about searching out their ancestors," says owner Janet Hovorka.  "At Family ChartMasters we believe that family history can save the world.  The more people know about their background, the more they are inspired with civility, gratitude and compassion for other people because they find out we are all more alike than different.  We want to help people make that easy to remember every day."

The new DNA chart comes in three styles, Basic, Modern and Antique, to fit different d├ęcor styles.  In less than five minutes a person can enter the ethnicity estimates from their DNA test (currently aligned with Ancestry's DNA regions), and upload an optional photo.  After viewing a preview, an order can be placed to print the chart on archival Professional Paper or Artist's Grade Canvas.  Following Family ChartMasters' proven track record of superior service, the beautiful print will arrive rolled in a tube and ready to frame.  PDF downloads are also available for immediate delivery to an email inbox.  Pricing starts at $19.95.

Genealogists will find this chart to be an easy and meaningful gift for a family member who has helped them with their research by taking a DNA test or for family members who are interested in their ethnic makeup.  "We love helping family historians share their findings,"
says Hovorka.  "Just like all of our other genealogy charts, this new DNA chart will help families bond over their common roots and appreciate their heritage."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Family ChartMasters: New Product Coming Soon To Help Share Your Family History

From The Chart Chick Blog:

We can't wait to share our newest product coming June 9, 2017! It's customized just for you, easy to order, and makes a great gift for yourself or others. Visit on June 9 to find out our big surprise!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day Dessert: Strawberry Pie Recipe

Pat Dana, Summer 1965  Isn't she the cutest?
If you've ever heard an interview or a lecture with me about my Zap the Grandma Gap books you know that I give my Mom all the credit for raising a Family History loving family.  Most of the ideas in my book either come from her or are inspired by her.   That's why I dedicated the book to my parents.  It is really written to honor them and the family legacy they taught me about. Mom and I just enjoyed a fun trip to the NERGC conference together (check it out on the Chart Chick blog.)

What you may not know is that my Mom is also an awesome cook.  When she went to college, she was really concerned about raising a good family, so she majored, and graduated in Home Economics.  I remember her telling me that they tested all different kinds of pie crust recipes in one of her foods classes to see what the best way to a flaky crust was.  So for Mother's Day this year, we created an infographic with Mom's excellent Strawberry Pie recipe.  She didn't like the Jello version, and she didn't like the cornstarch version, so she combined them together to make the perfect pie recipe. Please share a favorite recipe that belongs to your mother in the comments below!

We have our issues like any other family, but I'm super blessed with a great Mom.  Happy Mother's Day to everyone!