Saturday, December 25, 2010

SNGF - My Best Genealogy Gift

I received 2 genealogy help gifts this year for Christmas.  The first was a cashmere sweater which will keep me warm when I do my volunteer work at my local Family History Center.  It is so cold that there is a space heater in the room.  Most of us just keep our coats on.  This is in south Texas!

The second gift I received was a Nook book reader.  This will let me search for and download reference materials.  My library also has e-books available to borrow via download.  It's a whole new environment to explore.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Challenge 51

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Challenge 51

Week 51: Think about the goals you want to accomplish next year and write them down. What research steps do you want to take? What records would you like to find? Think about the brick walls you’d like knocked down. What things haven’t you done yet and why not? This task doesn’t have to be a resolution list unless you want it to be. Authors of genealogy blogs may share their lists with their readers if they choose.

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts that are a bit more challenging and are geared towards those new to the field of genealogy and family history as well as those who want to brush up on some skills which might be a bit rusty. Please include an attribution link if you participate.

My genealogy goals for 2011 are ambitious.  I will work on one family line per month and make sure that all information is entered and sources cited.

I will move cassette recordings to CD and share them with family.  This to ensure lots of copies and avoid total loss of resources.  Just need to borrow my grandson's boom box.

I will continue to scan family photos and organize folders by family.

I will attend the SOCAL genealogy conference in June.

I will continue to index for both and

I will continue to blog.

I will probably do some other things as well, but stating these goals will help me to stay on track.  Next year I will review my goals and see what I have accomplished.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?

Our family did not visit the cemetery at Christmas.  We used to visit the cemetery on Decoration or Memorial Day.

My father died on Dec 28, 1959.  With all nine of us under 18 at the time, Mom had a very difficult time carrying on the family Christmas traditions.  Keep them she did however.  The Christmas after he died we still had a gathering of relatives which included a meal I am sure.

After my husband died suddenly, in Oct of 2005, it was very difficult to plan for the holidays.  Because I was living with my daughter and grandchildren, I drew on my mother's strength and made it through Christmas.  So that the grandchildren would know where to always find grandpady I bought a star and named it for him.  The certificate of that star hangs in a place of honor in their home. 

We don't wait for the holidays to remember our deceased relatives.  It's an ongoing experience.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Stockings

December 18 – Christmas Stockings
Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it? Do you have any Christmas stockings used by your ancestors?

Growing up, we always has a Christmas Stocking to hang on Christmas Eve.  Since there were nine of us and we had no fireplace, we got creative and hung them from any hook, handle, or doorknob we could find in the living room.  I do remember one year or two we had a cardboard fireplace to hang out stockings on.  Our stockings were the typical red plush with a white cuff.  I don't remember their having names on them but there must have been some way to keep track of whose was whose.  

Our stockings usually had an orange or tangerine, un-shelled nuts, candy cane, and some ribbon or other hard candy that usually got stuck in the bottom.

My children's stockings were more elaborate since I made them and they had a special pocket on the outside for a special tiny treasure.  Their stockings were filled in a similar manner but there were some additional small gifts.  Socks, nylons, perfume, small silly toys etc.

My grandchildren's stockings are like their mother's with the addition of embroidered names.  In our house everyone gets a stocking: parents, kids, dogs, and cats!  Grandma too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Grab Bag A Tradition begins

Grab Bag

Author’s choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!
I didn't post a blog about Christmas gifts because, although it was a very special Christmas gift, it also began a tradition in our family.

My husband and I were expecting our first child in April.  That year Aunt Kathy gave us a Christening gown for Christmas.  It was a 4 piece set of embroidered white nylon consisting of a matching coat, dress, and bonnet with a plain slip.  In our family infants are usually baptized within the first month of birth. Both of my children were baptized in that outfit. And a tradition was begun.

As time passed, each of my 17 nieces and nephews were baptized  in the dress.  As each child wore the dress, their name and date were embroidered on the slip.  Pink for girls and blue for boys of course.  When the next generation began the colors were changed to apricot/peach and mint green.  My grandchildren didn't wear the dress since they had a dress made from their grandmother's and mother's wedding dresses.  They did wear the slip so their names and dates have been added.  I'm not sure which of my nieces or nephews has the dress right now but I'll send them a copy of this and see where it turns up.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Fruitcake - Friend or Foe?

Fruitcake--Friend or Foe

Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes? Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake? Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?
 Image courtesy of Wikipedia used under the creative commons license.

I have always enjoyed Fruitcake, probably because it was always served with cream cheese and a cup of hot tea by my Irish relatives.  It only appears during the holidays and in my house anyway was considered a treat.  One year my brother-in-law was employed by the Rainbow Baking Co. in Colorado, so my mother ordered about 8 fruitcakes for gifting family members.

When I was newly married and not working, I made gifts for family.  A few times I made fruitcake for family members.  We always liked it but you had to start in about October.  Later I switched to Cinnamon Swirl Raisin bread.  

My children were not fans of fruitcake and had one fruitcake that they sent back and forth for about 10 years.  It finally died in Florida.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories -December 12 – Charitable/Volunteer Work

When I was a child, I didn't even know that soup kitchens existed and I was not aware of any large meals held for the poor.  It just didn't happen that way.  I believe that the priests and pastors knew of the needs of their parishioners and quietly supplied the things needed.  My mother spent many evenings hand beading sweaters which were donated to a local organization that served the poor.

In the 1970s our church began having a "Mitten Tree" to provide hats, mittens, and scarves for children in need.  This was in the Chicago area and the weather was cold and icy.  At some point in time the "Mitten Tree" evolved into an "Angel Tree".  Each year my children chose an angel to help provide Christmas to another child.  My children understood that they were giving up one of their gifts so another child could get a gift.  We tried to pick the same age and sex as our children were  so it became more personal to the kids.  The tradition continues as last week we delivered gifts for three angels to the church. My grandchildren understand volunteering and service to others.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

footnoteMaven's Tradition of Blog Caroling

There is a genealogy Christmas Caroling party sponsored by footnoteMaven going on.  Since this is my first year blogging, I can't say it is a tradition.  Yet!  But I am joining in anyhow.  It is with more enthusiasm than talent that I submit a favorite carol and its history.

O Little Town of Bethlehem !  
Rector Phillips Brooks (1835-1903) of Philadelphia, wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem in 1868, following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was inspired by the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine especially at night time hence the lyrics of O Little Town of Bethlehem. His church organist Lewis Redner (1831-1908) wrote the melody to O Little Town of Bethlehem for the Sunday school children's choir. 

 O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel  

Friday, December 10, 2010

How exciting to wake up and find that Dee and Debbie had given my blog the Ancestor Approved award.  This is really an honor!


The Award Rules: The recipient of the Ancestor Approved award lists ten things learned about their ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened. The recipient then passes the award to ten other bloggers that are doing their Ancestors proud.

1.  We had soldiers serving in several wars in the family.  I didn't know that.  My husband's Scots ancestors
   fought in the Revolutionary War as well as the Civil War, in addition to more modern wars.
2.  Sweden invaded Germany in the late 1500's.  I learned this while researching my husband's German roots.
3.  I love Google maps.
4.  That I can find my around the Norwegian Digitalarkivet.
5.  That is my friend.
6.  It is worth googeling a name or phrase in Google Books.  That's how I verified the cause of death for my
     Grandmother's brother.
7.  I am humbled that my ancestors left their homes and came to this country for a better life.They were
      amazingly successful.
8.  My husband's ancestors, on his mother's side, have been living in Southern Illinois since the 1860s.
9.  When some one asks about our Coat of Arms, I can reply there isn't one!  We were farmers and shop
10.  Religion meant a lot to my ancestors.

Although this part of the award was the most difficult, I have chosen  the following bloggers to receive the Ancestor Approved Award:

 Becky of
Robin of
Lori E of
Carolyn Murphy of
Sheri at
Carol at
Hummer at
James Tanner at
Cindy at

 Now I will visit their blogs to let them know of their award!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cookies

I don't remember Christmas cookies as part of my childhood, unless you count the Maurice Lenell assortment in the 5lb tin.  They really were a treat.

As a young mother I attended "Cookie Parties" and learned to make lots of cookies.  Rum Balls is a favorite in my family and my mother-in-law expected a supply every year.  Other cookies I made for the holidays were spritz, candy cane, and the obligatory sugar cookies cut in holiday shapes and frosted. 

The real cookie treat came in the mail.  It was a package mailed by my father-in-law's mother and contained her homemade kolachkys with prune and apricot filling.  These were cookie squares with filling in the center and opposite corners brought to the center.  After baking they were dusted with powdered sugar.  She also made another cookie with either poppy seed or nutmeat filling.  I don't know anyone else who can make these cookies.  I think they are Hungarian in origin.

And we also had the Marurice Lenell Cookies in Currier and Ives Tins sold by the Telephone Pioneers every year!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Santa Claus

 As children, when Christmas approached, we began trying to see if we could see Santa's elves peeking in the windows.  We never caught them no matter how hard we tried.  As the oldest of nine children, I "believed" in Santa for a long, long time.

When I got older (about 12 or 13), I was promoted to Santa's helper.  We didn't get new dolls every year, but the dolls we already had were given makeovers.  Doll hair was styled with sugar water and curlers, and all dolls received new clothes.  This process consumed several evenings after the littles went to bed.

My husband's family also believed in Santa, so the tradition continued in our family.  When our son was about 6 he began to question the reality of Santa.  He was allowed to call and ask Grandma, who cheerfully said "Yes, there is a Santa".  With the help of our neighbors, we arranged for Christmas to happen while we were at Midnight Mass.  As we walked home from church, we kept watching for Santa's sleigh.  Imagine, if you can, the looks on our childrens faces when they saw Christmas had happened!  Hot Wheel track assembled and running from the tree to the dining room, doll bunk beds with pillows and blankets, filled stockings and all.

Today, my grandchildren still believe in Santa and I'm glad.  Somehow some of the magic disappears when Santa does too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cards

Sometime after Thanksgiving every year, Mom would begin addressing the cards to be sent from our family.  I'm not sure when they were actually mailed.  They were always signed and adressed by hand.  This was before the era of the "Christmas Letter".

During the Christmas Season we often got 2 mail deliveries a day!  As children we would eagerly race to collect the mail and bring it in to be sorted.  We knew that if it was addressed to our parents, they would open it.  If the envelope had the additional words "and Family" it was ok for the kids to open.

After being duly opened and admired, the cards were put into a special tray to be admired over and over.  I don't remember seeing that tray at any other time of year.  It was a burgundy fan shaped tray with a gold fruit motif across the top.  I think it was made of aluminium.  After the holidays the cards were used for art and craft projects.

After I married, my husband and I continued the card tradition and displayed our cards on ribbon attached to a wall or door.  I think we did do a Christmas letter after we moved to Florida so we could let family and friends know what was happening in our lives and the lives of our children.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar - December 1, 2010 The Christmas Tree

Hansens circa 1958

The Christmas Tree!  O Tannenbaum! 

 Growing up in the mid-west in the 1950's we had a live tree.  Dad always put the lights and ornaments on , after carefully checking each bulb.  In those days if one bulb went out, the whole string went out.  We, the kids, got to put on the tinsel.  It was the individual strands of tinsel that were to be hung separately.  I will admit that throwing the tinsel by the handful was much quicker.  Yes, we had a star on top of the tree!