As we near the holiday season, thoughts generally turn to family gatherings. If you are like many families, you may have lost loved ones recently, so you may not be looking forward to these family gatherings. While there are many ways to cope with loss, one way I have found (and genealogists may agree) very helpful is to look at photos of past holidays.
One of my most vivid Christmas memories is of my grandmother. Most everyone can say that, I suppose, but this one doesn’t involve going to her house for Christmas. My grandmother, Dorothy Perry, lived in Los Angeles for most of her life. We lived in Kansas City. I grew up during the 1950s and 60s, and travel to Los Angeles was quite expensive, as were as long distance telephone calls (you paid by the minute). As a result, I didn’t get to see or talk to her very much.
When I was younger, it was a tradition in most families to go downtown and look at the decorations and the store windows. If you did not have a car, you rode the bus. This was a tradition that could be found in towns and cities across the United States.
During this time of the year, we start thinking about traditions: cookies Grandma made or finding the perfect tree with Dad. One of my favorite Christmases was actually one that wasn’t at all like the rest. The year was 2001. My family lived in Caracas, Venezuela at the time. It was at the beginning of the "Bolivarian Revolution," and things were tense between the government and opposing factions.
Some holiday traditions are born with each new child. Others are passed down through the generations. Sometimes, we have forgotten why we do the things we do, but we still do them. Probably, because Great-Grandma Isabella showed us how.
Mom had three tree ornaments that were always the last to go on the tree. When my brother and sister and I started having trees of our own, Mom gave each of us one of the ornaments. We treasure them.
As the Holidays approach, many families often plan fun activities to enjoy time together. Some families get together to see a holiday themed movie or maybe attend the local tree lighting ceremony. These wonderful family traditions make the holidays such a special time of year. In Excelsior Springs, where I live, it wouldn't be the holidays without visiting the Hall of Trees in the historic Hall of Waters. Each year, businesses and community organizations decorate trees for a fun and festive holiday display that children and adults alike can enjoy.
We have all heard the Christmas song, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” In several verses, you sing about figgy pudding. So, what is figgy pudding? It is a thick, heavy, cake-like Christmas, dessert popular in 19th century England.
Have you hit a brick wall in your Genealogy research? Need help translating that German document? Having trouble with FamilyTree Maker? The Midwest Genealogy Center may be able to help. We have staff members and volunteers that will meet with you by appointment. This free service does not replace the assistance of a professional and/or paid researcher, but in many cases, our staff and volunteers may be able to help you break through that brick wall in your research.
If your family is like mine, when the holidays are getting ready to roll around, they start to ask, "What gifts do you want for the holidays?" When this happens, remember your genealogy wish list. Here are some ideas that might delight anyone working on their family tree.