Salt Lake Christmas Tour ………… last peek of 2011

Could we end this year on a better note than to recognize that our Great Leader is a Superman in the world of genealogy and has been for nearly 30 years? And surely is the Great & Wonderful “OZ” of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour. We of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour love you and thousands of genealogists worldwide admire and respect you, Leland. Thank you for all you do for so many!!

Donna (his devoted fan and friend since 1985)

Salt Lake Christmas Tour….. Week’s Peek!

Merry Christmas from my house to yours. This is a tree along the lane coming into my house; we don’t have much snow yet but I’m sure it is coming. I really don’t mind! I live in Spokane!

I wish for you that all your luggage arrived home with you; that all your notes and copies from the tour make sense when you finally get to them; that the cutsie little gifts you received at the breakfast drawing are things that you’ll keep around to bring a smile of remembrance to your face; that you remember that you soon will be getting the link to a free copy of RootsMagic 5 and hope you will decide to try it; and that you’re all caught up with your mail and emails and magazine reading and blog monitoring by now!

Before 2012 crashes upon us, and white the 2011 Salt Lake Christmas Tour is still fairly fresh in your mind, I would love to hear any stories about the tour from you, or suggestions for next year. You know where I live………just beyond the snow-covered fir tree.


Salt Lake Christmas Tour……. post-2011 tour peek!

Despite all the hullaballo with RootsTech that Leland had to deal with, the 27th annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour was a huge and resounding success! First off, there was no snow and the days were sunny and bright (but cold). Of the 94 people attending most found new ancestors and certainly they found new cousins and new friends.

The 2011 tour was both the worst and the best tour ever. It was the worst ever because the husband of an elderly New Jersey couple suffered a heart attack in the mens’ room of the cafeteria and passed away. It was the best tour ever because of what I said above. Here are some of the comments gleaned from the tour critiques filled out at our Farewell Social….

Where both Alan N. from Iowa and Melonie L. from Washington won a free 2-night stay gifted by the Plaza Hotel!!

“The Christmas Tour is the best! I filled in gaps in many of my families! The professionals gave me insights to new roads of research. I loved the cheerfulness early in the morning. I finally learned FamilySearch and the WIKI. I loved all the choices at breakfast! The daily bulletin board (that Donna has in the hotel lobby) kept me on track. As a newbie, I was so impressed with the dedication of everyone who helped to make the week a blast for me. I made a 30-year breakthrough! My week’s highlight was having my sister with me. The classes introduced me to new sources. I’m related to Louis VII of France! I learned how to research in a whole new area. Thanks for all the organizing, enthusiasm and great ideas. I went to four of the expert helpers and got more homework that I had time for. I went back several generations on my mom’s side. My husband became interested in genealogy!! I loved Thomas’ classes and learned so much from him. I learned that FamilySearch is really a goldmine for research. The highlight of my week was finding my ancestor in Germany. I really enjoyed being able to use all the subscription databases there in the Family History Library. Thank you, Arlene Eakle, for your help!

Posted by a grateful Mother Hen, Donna

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peek………. Last one for 2011!!

Yepper, the time has come, to quote some sage. I’m flying out on Tuesday, Nov 29th (gotta get there earlier and earlier to be there to greet you early-and-earlier comers!) so won’t have time on Monday to post…….besides, what more to say?

We don’t usually think of blue as a Christmas or holiday color and yet this is from the lighted display on Temple Square…………remember where?

I’ve prepared information and trivia for our daily news board but please feel free to bring anything you would like to post for the enjoyment of the group!

And where have you seen this picture before????????? You’ll be seeing it again soon!!

Long-time-tour-participant Shirley always comes prepared with a To-Do List and so she never runs out of things to do……… even after 20+ years. Ask her about her research secrets….. she’ll be there again this year.

Looks like about 1/3 of you will be there before the official Sunday arrival…….. I’ll be looking for you!

Donna, aka Mother Hen

We Now Have Less Than 3 Weeks Until the 27th Annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour!

The 27th Annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour is less than 3 weeks away. If you would like to join the group for six full days of professionally assisted research, you must do so now ! Immediately! We must have your registration no later than 10 pm MST Wednesday, November 16 to guarantee you a place. Click here to visit the Tour website and Register.

There are numerous trips to The Family History Library, sponsored by genealogical societies and commercial firms. However, The Salt Lake Christmas Tour has been highly successful because we have the highest ratio of professional researchers to attendees of any genealogy research tour using the Family History Library. You’ve always got the help you need to overcome your difficult research problems! You can research your ancestors with the help of our experienced professional genealogists. The Salt Lake Christmas Tour is known for the quality of the professional genealogists that work with the attendees on a daily basis – Monday through Saturday. The Christmas Tour typically has professional genealogists available for consultation from 9 am until near the time when the library closes. Professionals currently planning to work the 2011 Tour are: Linda Brinkerhoff, Arlene Eakle, Loni Gardner, Kevan Hansen, Wade Hone, George Ott, Joy Price, Billy Edgington, Dwight Radford, Ruth Maness, and Trudy Schenk. The Salt Lake Christmas Tour is led by Leland K. Meitzler, Donna Potter Phillips and Bill Balter.

Don’t let this opportunity to find more ancestors pass you by. Register now. Fill in the form, scan and send a pdf to – or Fax a copy of the filled-out form to 815-642-0103 – or just call us at 801-949-7259, and we can take your information over the phone.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour—– This week’s peek!

What do these photos bring to mind! The almost-here Salt Lake Christmas Tour 2011!! The friendship, the good breakfasts from Dick and Dee Cattaneo, the opportunity for hours in the Family History Library, and the jolly companionship of our loveable boss, Leland. What more could we ask for?

Do you realize that the FHL offers free access to so many databases that would cost you and I more than we can afford to have our own at-home subscriptions? Even if you just came and just sat at a computer all day you would surely make progress with your research. Have you picked out and printed out the problems you want to work on this time?? I looked at my pedigree (in the Legacy program) and picked five dead-end problems that I hope to find some time to study. I printed out the pedigree chart and the accompanying group charts (no man is an island!) and put them into separate folders. Those five folders are all I’m bringing. (That and a thumb drive with all my Legacy/ancestors on it.) That is all you need to bring, too, the charts for the problems you want to work. Decide that before you come and leave those big, bulky rolling carts at home!

OhMyGosh……. two weeks from tomorrow and I’ll be there. OhMyGosh!!

Donna, your excited and eager Mother Hen

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peek……….Next!

“Oh the weather outside is getting frightful…..” Pre-Halloween SNOW in New Jersey and the Northeast? And SNOW in Texas when they are barely over their run of 100+ degree days? The weather outside is surely getting frightful……….. but the weather in Salt Lake City will be perfect for us in early December! Yes, it will be cold but we’re prepared for that and we’re not outside all that much anyway, right?

Thomas MacEntee is coming from Chicago where the winter weather is always frightful and is once again pleased to be with us for the 2011 tour. This year he has new topics, classes and sessions for us and (knowing that we need it) is expecting to work one-on-one with us as needed. (So bring your laptop!)

And don’t forget your wrapped Christmas gifts for the daily breakfast drawings! No junk (or junque), please; office supplies are always welcome. And if you have something extra special to bring, give it to me for the Saturday evening Biggee drawing.

To get you in the mode of Questions & Answers, what is this (above)?? It has something to do with Salt Lake City and the Christmas tour. First correct answer gets an extra draw from the gift basket on Monday morning!

Soon! Donna, aka Mother Hen

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peek….. Next!

Tiz confirmed! Crista Cowan from is coming to be our Monday night presenter at the 2011 Salt Lake Christmas Tour! Crista is the Community Alliance Manager for Ancestry. She’s coming to tell us that there is way, way, WAY more to than we probably realize; her presentation will be titled, “Ancestry: What We Offer Beyond the Obvious.” And she’ll be bringing prizes and Ancestry freebies! She would not tell me what; “it will be fun to surprise them!” And so it is.

And of course our favorite Big-Little person, Arlene Eakle, will be there brimming with new research ideas to help us find those rascally ancestors.

I do hope YOU on Patty Meitzler’s list of 2011 attendees….. it’s not too late if you aren’t!

See you all soon, Donna, aka Mother Hen

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peek #45

Some genealogies are rather plain, sturdy and strong, but rather ordinary.

Some genealogies are really rather crazy, full of “really?” stories.

Some genealogies are rather traditional, a “Heinz 57 American,” type of tree.

Some genealogies have ancestors from mostly one place, one country.

But YOUR genealogy is the only one that counts to you. Come December, on the Salt Lake Christmas Tour, you’ll be finding new “ornaments” (ancestors) to hang on your family Christmas (or Holiday) Tree. Do hope to see YOU there!

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next week.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peek (humm..where be we?)

No picture today…what “week peek” day is it? Funny how a big WHOPP to your body impacts your mind. You all know that I had hip replacment surgery on Oct 3rd and (according to the PT fellow) I’m over-the-top doing good for just a week. But my mind is working and I’m thinking about the Christmas Tour….

Concurrently this week, my grandson, Ry, made it through Marine Boot Camp and is now a Marine. This accomplishment has really set me thinking. This was a young man living far from mainstream (Port Angeles WA) who up to his high school senior year had done NOTHING, truly nothing. Mid-year he announced he was joining the Marines and (long story short) he set out to climb his personal Everest and he made it…. How many of us can say we set such an awesome goal for oursevles and made it?

What has this to do with you and me? And genealogy? Permission to speak freely? I’m really annoyed by folks and friends who say “Oh, I can’t do that.” And I’m not talking about climbing Everest; I’m talking genealogical research on the Internet. What you are saying, dear friend, is “I don’t want to do genealgical research on the Internet; I’ve not got the guts to learn it. So I’ll just continue to whine and wish I could.” Right? Baldercookies!

Now if you really want to make progress with your family history may I ask how much effort are you putting in to the DOING of it? Case in point, our Christmas Tour. Sure it’s a great social time, but how many of you come only for a social time? (And there is nothing wrong with that; just admit that is so and quit whining about not finding anything.) How many of you do nothing (no classes, no seminars, no computer time, etc. etc. etc.) between tours and then expect to find something during the few days of the tour? How many of you really say you want to do research but have not taken the time to learn what that means?? How many of you are stuck in the 80s of researching and keep whining about the changes…when the rest of us are going wild with all the wonderful new stuff we’re finding in new places because we took the time to learn?

Case in point: Thomas MacEntee. Leland thought he was doing us a humumgous favor by signing Thomas to be our “guide” and teacher for the week. Have you been happily under a rock and do not know that Thomas MacEntee is one of the most sought after biggest wigs in genealogy today? We 2010 tour goers may have underused Sir Thomas last year. These are classes that were he presenting them in any other venue would cost you Big Bucks and you’d be in an audience of 100+. Again, Leland is doing us a big favor by signing Thomas again for the 2011 Tour. What does this mean to you?

I know what it means to me…. I’m excited! I realize I do not have to do all the things he teaches me but I want to understand them so I have the knowledge to make the choice. I do not want to be left out of the conversation! I want to learn the tools, to have the tools, to use these new tools, to solve some of my geneaology brick walls.

Here is your assignment for the next six weeks: Go to the tour website, look at the classes Thomas will be offering us (which might be tweaked a bit) and do some Google searching on your own (at your current comfort level) and start learning something more about all of this. Google “Thomas MacEntee” and learn about the teacher he is. Think about all of this and make a written list of what YOU want to better understand. You’ll have the opportunity to do just that on the 2011 Christmas Tour. Being blunt: DO SOMETHING and stop wishing, wanting and whining.

Well, this “Peek” is to let you know that I care about you guys and want you to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity…that you are paying for!


Jane Seymour & Nathan Gunn to Join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for the Annual Christmas Concert December 15-18, 2011

The annual Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert looks to be a winner again this year. Jane Seymour and Nathan Gunn will be headlining the annual Salt Lake City event, taking place December 15 to 18, 2011. You may sign up for a chance at getting the FREE tickets online between the dates of October 8 and October 17. The concert is a week after the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour, but if you’re coming on the tour and staying an extra week, it’s a real treat. The following news release was received from

Two internationally renowned performers—Jane Seymour, beloved British actress, artist, and author, and Nathan Gunn, much sought-after American baritone—will take the stage with the Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square December 15-18. No doubt they will bring down the house!

Seymour is a familiar face on the Broadway stage, motion pictures and television. A recipient of the Officer of the British Empire, her long list of credits includes the James Bond film Live and Let Die, romantic classic Somewhere in Time and six-season television classic, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She holds an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her work. She has a thriving career as an artist and has written several books including a children’s series.

Gunn has appeared in opera houses around the world from the Met in New York to the San Francisco Opera, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Paris, Bilboa and Brussels Operas and so many more. In addition he has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Boston, Chicago, London, and Rotterdam Symphony Orchestras. He also got rave reviews for his role in Camelot with the New York Philharmonic and Show Boat at Carnegie Hall.

Set your clock! Online registration for random ticket selection will be Saturday, Oct. 8, at 12:01 a.m. at and continue through Monday, October 17, 11:59 p.m. Those without Internet access can register by phone at 801-570-0080 or 1-866-LDS-TIKS Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Click here for more details.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peek #43

Just think; in a few days we’ll come down to breakfast with Thomas MacEntee and Mother Hen.

Then we’ll walk out the back door (snow? maybe….usually not), coats on and “stuff” in hand.

And then we scurry into the library and it feels like coming home, doesn’t it? How many days or weeks have you spent in this wonderful library?

I’m scribbling this early; on Monday October 3rd, I’m finally joining the Very Elite Hip Replacement Club………… so enjoy your peek a week early.

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next week.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peek #42

How many days left until our annual December rendezvous in Salt Lake??? Less than 70, according to Leland’s blog! I know our principle speaker/teacher/presenter Thomas MacEntee is getting prepared and I surely hope you are too. If you came just to learn from him, it would be a totally worthwhile week for you.

Don’t we all enjoy Christmas on Temple Square? I hear that this year promises to be better than ever………. does that mean more trees with lights? Double wow, can’t wait.

Maybe you come for Dick and Dee’s fabulous breakfasts……… especially the final-day Christmas Tree bread. And all the breakfast-time related fun. We all make it such a good time.

Time is getting short; if you’ve not made your reservations yet, you better be doing it. If you live where Southwest serves you, they’re always having specials so check them out. And Rich Williams and the Plaza staff are waiting for us…………

Call Patty today and reserve your spot………. if you’ve not done so already.

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next week.

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peek #41

Haalloooww! I’m scribbling this on 23 Aug so as to not have you miss out on a single Week Peek’s drivel……… but today, Sept 19th, I’m joining that exclusive club of those who have had hip replacement. That’s why I was thinking of you way early!

OKAY. So do you need more convincing to come on the Salt Lake Christmas Tour this year? How about the fabulous breakfasts that Dee and Dick Cattaneo arrange and provide for us??? And the fun trivia handouts we’ve had? And the fun complaining about how dang early 7:00 is?? And how fun the little silly gift exchanges are? And how about getting Bill Balter something really embarrassing? (YOU feel free to bring something of that ilk for this year.) Will all of that convince you???

Here’s a good reason: Think of all the hours you can spend at the Library on the computer using those commerical databases that on your own you cannot afford? Think they would yield you some answers??????? Surely would impact the over-all cost of the trip. Think so?

Salt Lake Christmas Tour Week Peeking……………..

Hello! I thought I was so darn smart scribbling and scheduling posts ahead of time (before our Africa trip) but they did not appear as I thought they would! Mea culpa, my bad. So now you can read them all……………

This is one of my many, many pictures. I’m planning to create an album at and will share an invitation-link with you when it is ready.

Best experience? Seeing elephants and Victoria Falls up close. Funniest experience? Sharing a puddle of Coke with a tame squirrel at the hunting camp. Awfulest experience? Almost loosing my beautiful baseball-sized rocks that I was bringing home. In the Johannesburg airport they almost were taken away from me……… they could be used as weapons and I never, never thought of that. Best food? Pap! Finely-ground white corn meal cooked thick and served with butter and sugar. And BBQ’d kudu ……. they soak the meat in Coke to tenderize it. Good tip, eh?

NOW I’m home and must get back to real life and working on the tour business………….