The books were printed and bound and ready for pick up five days before Christmas. My siblings, niece and nephews were all receiving hard copies. (Cousins received electronic copies later.) I wrapped the books and packaged them for shipping and was at the post-office when it opened at 8 am the next morning. The Canadian-destined parcels would be delivered before Christmas, but I was warned the out-of-country one would probably not make it — and it didn’t, arriving a few days after Christmas.

I’m sure it won’t surprise many genealogists to know that the book received mixed reactions. Some family members were thrilled and fascinated, devouring every word and image. Others were curious, but only enough for a cursory browse. One said, “This is interesting but how exactly does it affect me?”

The family historians who’ve seen it, love it, however, and are much more appreciative of the effort that went into it. One genealogy friend said, “I hope your relatives appreciate what you’ve done.” 

Another said, “Don’t expect your family members to have any concept of the work that went into this.” At least they helped prepare me for the reactions, and of course my family members could never understand the work involved.

An unexpected outcome from my first family history book is how it inspires other genealogists. I use it at writing workshops to show what can come from genealogy research. Workshop participants often take photographs of the book’s pages, which really surprised me.  

Having completed the book project and got it into the mail, I was able to go back to doing research, and by Christmas Day I had found new information that was not in the book. The book had been so much work but was out-of-date within a week of printing.

I remember shaking my head wondering if there wasn’t a better way to satisfy the needs of those people who want to touch and hold on to a book.

And eventually, I thought what about a book, but smaller, more manageable — like a booklet?

As genealogists we all know about rabbit holes. You get inspired and off you go. Well, one day, a couple of years after I had done the book, I became inspired by my parents’ wedding photographs. 

And I went down a rabbit hole trying to find out everything I could about their wedding and the time it took place. 

But what to do with all that material? I really wanted to create something special to commemorate the event. 

Yes, I could do a blog post, but Christmas was coming — and although that first book had been a nightmare, it had been a really great Christmas gift.

So I created a 16-page booklet. And not only was creating this booklet not a nightmare, it was a complete joy. I had it printed on glossy stock and mailed it out for Christmas.

I have also done a similar booklet for my uncle’s career as a nightclub performer and I have a several more planned for the future. 

From now on, booklets about a specific event or a specific person are the way forward for me. 

If the information changes dramatically, it’s much easier to update and much cheaper to reprint a 16-page booklet than it is a 100 page book.