Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Ancestor Tree

My ancestors and relatives mean a lot to me. I wouldn't be here without my ancestors! Christmas is a perfect time to focus on Christmas-past and our ancestors. A year ago my granddaughter suggested I needed to make ornaments for my tree with photographs of ancestors. She said, "After all, Grandma, you have oodles of old photographs." Indeed I do and I discovered I probably have enough for more than one large tree.

This year I occasionally thought about her request for ancestor ornaments. How was I going to create them? I found ideas and suggestions on Internet, but nothing seemed to be what I wanted. In October, You Go Girl #2 came for a visit. I told her she could not return home until we had solved the problem of putting ancestors on the tree.

She is artistic and talented in crafts, so it didn't take her long to figure how to do the ornaments. We found some thin, wood pieces of small circles and tear drops at the craft store. Later when they were out, my daughter brought me some light weight cardboard from work. That works, too! Raiding my quilting stash, I found odds and ends of fabric and scraps that looked old-fashioned. We purchased glue, ribbon, glitter and a tiny strand of garland with red berries on it. Covering one side of the wood piece, we then added a small loop of ribbons to the other side before gluing on the fabric. The ribbon serves as a hanger for the ornament. After all dried, they were trimmed.

The fun part was going through my collection of photographs that I scanned to my genealogy program. I manipulated each to get the proper size and then adjusted the color to sepia. After printing them, we either burned the edges or trimmed them. #2 is good at burning the edges. I would probably burn the house down! Those were glued to the fabric covered wood piece. Once dried, a small piece of greenery (garland) and bow was added. On the back side I glued a small name tag with the ancestor's name and dates. The final touch was putting glue around the edges and adding glitter.

I had no idea how many ornaments I would need, but made about 24 of them. They deserved a tree of their own (Ancestor Tree), so I purchased a four foot artificial tree with lights already on it. Once the ornaments were placed on it, I created a garland of twine and old-fashioned ribbon bows. Just the touch it needed. A small ornament was placed on the tree which reads, "Generations of Our Ancestors." The last photograph my husband and I had taken together was turned into sepia tones and placed on a small wooden tree which serves at the tree top ornament.

The best part of the tree is that I can look at it every time I am in the living room, study the photographs and remember who they are. I like to ponder about their lives and in particular their Christmases. I am sure they were quite different than mine.

The tree could easily handle more ornaments. I have plenty of ancestors who want to adorn it. But I also have months to work on them before Christmas 2010!

You Go Genealogy Girl #1 --- Ruby


  1. Love the idea - if I had any talent, I would sooo steal it!

  2. If I can make them, you can too. It takes a little patience working with small bows, etc., but got the job done!

  3. L-U-V your AncesTree! I adore these types of projects that allow the creator to focus on each individual loved one as the memorial piece is being completed. Great job! {hugs} from Texas

  4. Great idea. I only wish I had photos of enough ancestors to make it a reality.

  5. Love it! Can't wait until Christmas 2010 to try out the idea. What a great way to sneakily pass along ancestral information to your children!

  6. I too plan on doing the ornaments this Christmas. Sounds like a great tradition for our family. Do you have any other wonderful ideas you've used in the past for you're photos?



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