In November 2008, I was recovering from rotator cuff surgery, and trying to come up with Christmas gifts for family members. At the time, I was hearing a lot about MyCanvas in various press releases on genealogy blogs. MyCanvas is an online program in which you can create personalized items like family history books, recipe books, photo albums, posters, calendars and the like. I had tried out playing around with making a family history book a while ago, but it didn’t really interest me. Part of the challenge was a hesitation I have about putting genealogy into print, knowing that a family history is never really complete or accurate. But I had considered making a family calendar as a nice Christmas gift and a way to share our family history. With that in mind, I decided to take MyCanvas out for a test drive, and I was absolutely delighted with the results!

A Variety of Calendars

Twenty-four hours later, I had three calendars in the works. The first was for my extended family, which used the classic default holiday/seasonal background pages, each of which I planned to upload images from my computer of family members who celebrate birthdays or anniversaries that month.

MyCanvas Creative Calendar Grandchildren

Another was for a family member that I knew would appreciate some of the lovely designs of teapots that I had purchased from another company. The third was for my children’s father’s family, featuring the postcards that his great-grandmother received in the early 1900s from family and friends while she was working as a maid as a young single woman in the Midwest. Below are screenshots of that calendar, including the cover, seen here:

MyCanvas Creative Calendar Postcard

Next is the front and back of an Easter postcard, which I had scanned earlier.

Easter Postcard postcard back

Here is that same postcard, which I featured on the April calendar page, using the wonderful digital backgrounds and embellishments of MyCanvas:

MyCanvas Postcard Heirloom Calendar

Here’s the December page:

MyCanvas Postcard Heirloom Calendar December

My Family’s Response

The responses I received from family members were everything I hoped for, and more! From my children’s father’s family, we heard many thanks and exclamations at how beautiful the calendars were. They loved the idea of seeing their family history displayed in an attractive and useful way; after all, everyone needs a calendar, and this was a way to ensure that a little bit of family history was noticed each month.

This was a wonderfully creative outlet for me, and I look forward to using ancestral photos, historical documents, and even recipes to highlight pages of upcoming calendars. The nice thing is, you can make a basic calendar with all your family’s important dates, copy it, personalize the graphics, and then add or delete events that are customized to each individual recipient. And what’s more, it is a simple, one-handed easy-to-use project—which was perfect for someone like me, recovering from shoulder surgery!


About Miriam J. Robbins

Miriam J. Robbins is a professional genealogist who instructs, researches, and writes an award-winning blog called AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors. She lives in the Inland Northwest and enjoys reading, needlework, and cats. Find her on Twitter.


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