Build a family tree

Here is a great idea for the holidays.

At my house, every Christmas Eve it’s the same: As the evening goes on, we go through old family pictures and mom and dad tell stories of this and that photographed relative that’s passed away decades ago. There is the story of my great grandfather who had to fight in World War I and another of some obscure relative in my mother’s line who is supposed to have constructed London’s Hyde Park. Who were these people and how do I relate to them? Some of the memories of the faces are as faint as their pictures. It reminds me that our stories only live on in those that tell them after we’re gone. To a large degree, it’s these stories that families are all about. However, the more I think about it, the more it dawns on me that I only have a small idea of whom my ancestors are.

Recently, I stumbled upon the service MyHeritage.com. The company specialises in genealogy and offers easy and affordable means to construct your own family tree with the help of research databases. It has been around for a while now, merged with a couple of similar services and I may be the only one who has missed it so far. In fact, I only learned about it through my account on 23andme.com which provides genome analysis to your ancestry. My 23andme.com data pinpointed me to a couple of - genetically spoken - closely related individuals overseas and I wondered how these might be linked to our family tree. You can integrate your 23andme account with MyHeritage and share the data across the services. This is how I found out I had a third degree cousin in Canada.

As I told my father about my idea to reconstruct our family tree, he immediately joined in. Maybe your parents are just like mine and perhaps they would also find joy in reviving nearly forgotten memories into a family tree. 

Why not give it a shot this Christmas? Maybe it brings your family closer together, as well. If your old family albums are already lying besides your Christmas tree, a MyHeritage.com account might just be the perfect activity for your family these holidays.