Christmas in July

Jim Wahlberg and his mother.
Jim Wahlberg and his mother.

Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

Recently I began thinking about Christmas gifts for my children who are adults with families of their own. In addition to being addicted to genealogy, I am a dedicated scrap booker. These are two hobbies, dare I say obsessions that go together very nicely. In both instances, you are looking for stories and photos of the family both from today and from years ago. You can easily mesh these hobbies into a great gift for your children or other members of the family. They could even be used as a fund raiser at you family reunion. I am talking about a recipe book. Now I do not mean a 200 page one, just a simple one with 6 to 12 recipes.

The first things that you need are the recipes. My plan is to gather up a recipe from each of my children’s grandmothers, great grandmothers as well as one grandfather who could really cook. I will select ones that my kids will remember as something that they looked forward to. I will also include a couple from my repertoire. It so happens that I kept a copy of many of the recipes that the family enjoyed over the years. You can copy them onto recipe cards or type them into the computer and print them out. In one case, I have the recipe in their great grandmother’s handwriting so will definitely copy that one for them.

Next you will need an album, scrapbook or folder to put the recipes in. I recommend a small one 7 X 7 or 8 X 8 or whatever size you are able to locate that will accommodate your project. Be sure to get a book that will have double the pages that you need because you are going to add photos to the book.

Now start scouring your photo albums, boxes of photos, or the albums of your family members to find a photo of each person that you will be using one of their recipe. You will need to scan or copy and print sufficient numbers to make your books. You will also need to gather up vital statistics for these people, full name, birth and death dates. Perhaps a short paragraph about the recipe such as where they found it or if it was only made on special occasions. This will really add to the project and help to preserve your family history.

A quick trip to one of the local craft stores for stickers, colored pens, adhesives, embellishments, and you are ready to go. If you have several books to make I recommend that you make up one book and then just copy it times however many you need. Each book can can be personalized with a unique title page.

I have incorporated the idea of favorite family recipes into some of my many scrapbooks. I used a photo of my then 100-year-old mother helping to make Chili Sauce from an old family recipe and then added the recipe to the page. She is now 102 and still going strong. Is one of your senior family members still making those awesome cookies or fudge?? Get the ingredients and make an appointment to make the recipe and take a few photos while you are at it. Enjoy your summer and the family get togethers.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to and visit Janet’s own web page.