Saturday, December 31, 2011

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 1

Week #1 – Blogs

Week 1 – Blogs: Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?

Which blog am I MOST thankful for? Hands down it is Dick Eastman's Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. If you can't find it on EOGN , then chances are it hasn't even been written about yet!

EOGN is up-to-date and informative about not only genealogy, but technology as well. It was one of the very first genealogy blogs/ newsletters I read, and it's still my go to. Several times a day I open my reader [you can get one here] and catch the latest updates from Dick. And what is so amazing is that Dick encourages you to share his articles in your own newsletters and blogs! He's just that  kind of sharing guy!

I encourage everyone, new to genealogy, or an old hand at it, to be reading Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, it's the best there is.

Happy Hogmanay!

The Origins of Auld Lang Syne

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Family Recipe Friday - Variation on Mama's Cranberry Salad

Mama used to make a very interesting cranberry salad for the holidays. While it tasted okay, I won't even try to describe it to you! At least not what it looked like. A few years after I was on my own, I began to make a variation on Mama's cranberry salad. Whereas Mama put all of her ingredients into a blender, literally pulverizing the contents into a liquid mush, I took the time to chop and dice everything into a much more visually appealing dish.

One winter I came up with an even more interesting idea... how about if I added a little whipped topping and some sour cream? It turned out so good, that the next year I added cream cheese as well!

Today, my family slobbers all over themselves to get a bite of my cranberry salad. And it all began with Mama's version!

So, while I won't give you Mama's... here's my family's cranberry salad:

Cranberry Delight

1-lb. fresh or frozen whole cranberries, chopped
1 orange, peel and chop, save the rind, remove pith and chop rind into tiny pieces
1- tangerine, peel and chop, save the rind, remove the pith and chop rind into tiny pieces
1 Rome apple, leave peel on and chop into small pieces
1 - cup chopped pecans
2-pkg Jello Strawberry Flavored Gelatin Dessert
1-small tub whipped topping, thawed
1 pkg. [8-oz.] cream cheese, softened
2-Tbsp. sour cream
Mix chopped cranberries, orange and peel, tangerine and peel, apple and pecans together in a large bowl.
Dissolve Jello in 2-cups hot water in a small bowl. Add 1-cup ice-cubes and stir until ice cubes have melted. Pour this liquid over fruit and nut mixture. Stir to make sure everything is covered by the jello.
Refrigerate. After 1-hour stir again. Chill one more hour and stir.
Return to refrigerator and chill until Jello is firm [about an hour].
Remove from refrigerator.
Use a large spoon to break up Jello. Now added thawed whipped topping, cream cheese and sour cream. Mix well.
This can be served immediately, or may be refrigerated up to 24-hours.

The kids absolutely love this!!!

We serve this dish on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. We have made it for Easter as well. If fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries can't be found, we have even used whole berry canned cranberry sauce as a substitute. Just use a little less water in your Jello to help it bind more firmly.

Yum! Yum!

Treasure Chest Thursday -

Mileage Ration Card WWII
Issued to
John Beane, Jr. [my Dad's brother]

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

12 December 1975
Cynthia Ann Beane
Andy Lewis Adwell
Gap Mill Church of the Nazarene
Gap Mills, Monroe, West Virginia

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Adell A. Clements

Adell A. Clements
May 24,                  July 28,
1919                       1998

Adell Allen Clements was born May 24, 1919 to Hames Thomas Clements and Dollie Ethel Pritchard. He was the 4th born of 7 children to the couple.

Born in Texas, he died July 28, 1998 in San Angelo, Tom Green, Texas.
He is buried in Lawn Haven Memorial Gardens in San Angelo.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Madness Monday - Or Why Do We Do It?

Every year it seems we procrastinate and are working right up to the last minute getting gifts ready for Christmas! This year was no exception. Due to some health problems, I simply wasn't up to getting things prepared as early as I like to. But I have made myself a firm promise that this is the last year for this!

Yep... I've already started on the crafts that will get me through the year's birthday and anniversary gift gifting, as well as into the Christmas of 2012!

And in so preparing, I began to wonder just difficult it was for our ancestors to do the very same crafts [knitting and crocheting] which I do today. After all, in the mountains of West Virginia, it wasn't until well into the 20th Century that electricity made it's way into homes. And even when I was a child, the wiring was of such that homes had to use only low wattage light bulbs, or risk fire hazard!

So... let's just break a little bit of this down, and begin to understand just how my ancestors must have provided, even the most basic of clothing for their families.

Purchasing ready made garments in the Appalachian Mountain communities during the 18th century and even until after the Civil War was just about unheard of. Families were generally lower income farmers, and had to provide for themselves.

Young girls were taught at an early age the intricacies of sewing. This was usually in learning basic and advanced embroidery, taught at Mother's knee, with a sampler. Not a thing like the sampler's today, the young girl was given a piece of cloth, and she used this to hold her delicate sampler, which flowed from her imagination, and not from a pattern, nor from an iron-on-transfer!

If the young girl owned a doll, she would be allowed to take scraps of fabric and learn the details of designing and sewing her own clothing in making clothing for her dolly. If she wasn't lucky enough for a dolly, she might be taught with helping Mother make clothing for a baby sister or brother. Eventually she would graduate to household items [quilts, toweling, etc.] and into her own clothing.

If the family had a little extra money, fabric might be purchased locally at the mercantile or general store. If they had no money, it was likely they raised a few goats or sheep for wool, which they sheared
...this shearing was done by hand with thick, stiff shearer's scissors as seen above.

Then it was carded and combed...

... this removed any tangles, knots or impurities in the wool. It also allowed the wool to release some of its natural oils, and made it more pliable for...

...spinning into yarn or thread. An experienced spinner could make fine sewing thread, or thick bulky yarn!

For fabric, the threads had to be placed on a loom and woven into cloth.

If the family had a little money, they might own a large handsome loom like this one. Wide widths of fabric could be woven on a loom like this, and in whatever length the weaver wanted to make it!

The less economically fortunate might own a loom similar to the one below, which is most commonly called a Navajo loom.

While this loom is now named after the Native American Indian tribe who utilized the loom for their fabrics, it is in fact, an ancient design going back thousands of years and used throughout the world by varying nationalities, but is most prevalent among the poor or less advanced peoples prior to the 19th century.

Once the individual made either yarn, thread, or fabric, they could then commence to fashion clothing for themselves and their family! And we consider ourselves crafty simply by going to the market, picking up some ready-made yarn and kitting a pair of gloves as a gift for someone!

On top of that, we have our well lit home to work in. And the chores practically do themselves when compared to our ancestors!

Did any of your ancestors make their own threads or yarns? Make their own "crafts"?
If so, do you have any items made by your ancestor?

Tribute To Our Military At Christmas

Even if you've seen this before... it's worth another look!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

100 - Year Old Dear Santa Letter

Dublin, Ireland homeowner, John Byrne, was doing a bit of remodeling in 1992, updating his heating source, when he discovered a letter tucked away into the chimney of the front bedroom's fireplace.

The letter was penned in 1911 by two of the Howard children who once lived in the home. There were three, but the eldest was 13 at the time, so it is presumed that Alfred ["Fred"] 7, and Hannah, 10, wrote the request, which included a "Good Luck" message for the jolly elf.

The requests were warm and considerate and in part read, "I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee."

Byrne said that in the old days there was a sort of shelf on the inside of fireplaces and the letter was found tucked into one of these when discovered. It is only slightly scorched.

Although Byrne discovered the letter in 1992, he has kept it as a souvenir from a previous owner of his home, and of a much simpler and purer time.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 24

December 24 - Christmas Eve
How did you, your family or your ancestor spend Christmas Eve?

Christmas Eve has always been a special time for us. Even as a child, Mother would serve up egg nog and fruitcake, and we would sit about and sing Christmas carols until we were hoarse! Then we would watch old Christmas movies on the television, until thoughts of Saint Nick passing our house by because we weren't in bed asleep, drove us to our bedrooms. Many Christmas Eve's my sister [who is 22 months younger than I], would crawl into bed with each other, even though we had our own beds, and our own bedrooms! I had a double bed in my room, and she only a twin, so it was always in my bed we would climb. There we would giggle and contemplate on the great amount of gifts Santa was certain to leave under the tree for the two of us!

More than one Christmas Eve we attempted to stay awake until midnight, just so that we could see if the pets would kneel down and speak in human voices, like our Grandpa said they would! [Later he told us only those in the stable or barn would do that... not domesticated dogs or hamsters or guinea pigs!]

As we got older and into our teens, we continued having egg nog and singing carols on Christmas Eve.

Once I had children of my own, I continued the egg nog and desserts of nutmeg logs, cookies and fruitcake. We continue to sing carols as well. And just before we turn out the lights before heading to bed, we read from the Scriptures, Luke chapter 2. The story of the nativity.

These simple traditions I hope we can continue always. And I hope that my grandchildren, and even my great-grandchildren, will know these simple traditions as well.

Have yourself a Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 23

December 23 - Christmas Sweetheart Memories
Do you have a special memory of a first Christmas present from a sweetheart?
My very first Christmas with my husband, Texican, was in 1997. Both of us had given up on any kind of romance. I was in my late 30's and he ten years older than I. Both of us had been married before [both of us more than once before!]. But in October of that year, fate brought us together. 

Love did, indeed, bloom. And it was as if it was our very first romance!

I was battling oat cell cancer when we met. And was given only a six-month prognosis. I was also the single mother of five [yes five!] teens. What began as something to offer me hope, grew to so much more!

On December 15th he asked me to marry him! But because of my illness, I said no.

He asked three times over the next few weeks. Each time I refused, reminding him that I didn't want to get married, simply to leave and have him deal with a burial and my children!

Finally, on Christmas Eve, he asked again. And I will never forget his words this time. He said that he'd rather have a single moment with me, than a lifetime without me! [How sweet is that?]

And I said yes.

The next day was Christmas, and he handed me a big box with a red bow. Inside the big box was a lot of tissue paper! And down among the tissue paper was a much smaller box. And inside... a one carat diamond engagement ring!!!

How did you spend your first Christmas together?

Our first Christmas was spent the first half with my sister and my parents. Then we came home and the seven of us spent the remainder celebrating together. It was our very last Christmas with all of us together. By the next... three of my children had flown from the nest! So... it was a treasured, doubly-treasured!, Christmas!

Any Christmas engagements or weddings among your ancestors?

I haven't found any evidence of any Christmas engagements or weddings among my ancestors. Although my maternal grandparents and my parents were married on December 12th, which meant we celebrated all month long in our house!

As a child, our Christmas tree was put up on my parents anniversary! So, I relished the time!

Were there any Christmas engagements or anniversaries in your ancestors?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 21

December 21st - Christmas Music

What songs did your family listen to during Christmas?
My family listened to an eclectic collection of Christmas songs. Mostly the traditionals and those with religious significance. As well as the children's favorites, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman"!

Did you ever go caroling?
I went caroling for the first time when I was 12. I went to a private school, and our homeroom teacher took us caroling on the streets of her neighborhood, and then back to her teeny tiny apartment for hot chocolate. [Imagine 24 rather rambunctios 12 year olds in a 400-square foot apartment!] After we moved to the mountains and I was a teen, I went caroling every year. A bunch of us would gather on the spur of the moment and walk our country lanes, stopping at each little farm house and sing. Sometimes we were offered hot cocoa or cakes or cookies as we stopped at a farm. I haven't been caroling since I was 17. But oh, how I loved it!

Did you have a favorite song?
As a young girl, [less than 10], I think my favorite was "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". But as I got a little oolder, it became a real treat to hear Grandpa Dreher sing "Stille Nacht", and it replaced the old as my favorite. Today? I still hold "Stille Nacht" as a dear, dear favorite. But I cannot call Christmas complete until I hear Celine Dion sing "Oh, Holy Night". Something about the way she sings it, brings chills and such warmth and reverence to the song! It transports you to the Christ Child's birth! Love it!

Did your family listen to Christmas music? Did you have a favorite song? Did you ever go caroling?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 20

December 20th - Religious Services
Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?

I was raised in a Southern Baptist home, until my teen years where we were for a time members of the Church of the Nazarene [known as Nazarene's]. Christmas pageants were prevalent each year. Sometimes communion was held. Other times not. Sometimes the advent was observed, and at others not.

A few years ago, my family reverted back to their Southern Baptist roots. While I became a minister with a non-denominational church. Today, I do not attend a church, but rather commune daily in private.

Often a Christmas contata was held. And these, being somewhat musical, I enjoyed much more than pageants. Even as a child!

Did your family attend Christmas services at church? If so, what customs and traditions were observed?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 19

December 19th - Christmas Shopping
How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?

Oh, Christmas was that wonderful time of year when we got to dream big for our wish lists!

Growing up in a Navy seaport, we got to see shops with items from around the globe! And Christmas was so much fun!

Mother would take us Christmas shopping downtown. Those of you who are younger may not understand the significance of shopping downtown! In those days, we did not have big shopping centers and malls where one could visit a hundred or more shops all within one central building! No... in those days, one parked in the downtown public parking lots and walked from store to store along the cold, and hopefully snowy! streets!

Oh, the scenes we encountered! The sidewalks bustled with busy shoppers after Thanksgiving! Back then, Christmas displays and items weren't ever seen in the stores until AFTER Thanksgiving! Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade heralded in the new season! And so for me, it still does!

The bigger stores had animated window displays, while the smaller ones had lush gift boxes with ornaments and lights! And on every block we crossed on to there stood a Santa, ringing his bell, with his red bucket, collecting for the needy!

Mother always gave us a full day downtown during the Christmas season! We would arrive before 9 a.m. Most stores didn't open until 10 back then. So we would go into a cafe and have hot cocoa and crullers or doughnuts. Now, you have no idea how delightful this was for us! In those days, we had a few root beer stands, but one simply did not run out for hamburgers to avoid cooking dinner at home! And a stop into a doughnut shop or cafe for hot cocoa and crullers was considered something very special!

After this morning treat, we would bundle up to face the cold, and begin our full day!

We always visited Woolworth's. It was here that our little allowance money would go a long way in purchasing Christmas gifts for one another! Mother would pretend to look in another direction when we picked out something especially for her. And she would artfully steer my sister and I apart when we purchased something for each other! [NEVER, however, have I ever met someone who was so good at artfully spending their allowance on others as my sister! Mother used to laugh that she could give my sister a dollar bill, and she would come home with a gift for everyone in the house, plus a little something for herself! No... I didn't get that knack! LOL]

Many of the old department stores were in tall buildings and you had to ride an elevator to go from floor to floor. Now, this wasn't like the elevators of today! No sir! These elevators were manned! An attendant would call out the floors and what was on each fllor, "ladies wear second floor, men's wear third floor, children's attire fourth floor, toys fifth...", etc. Of course, no downtown shopping trip was complete without visiting the toy floor and a visit with old Saint Nick himself!

When lunch time rolled around, Mother would either steer us to Woolworth's counter for lunch, or into a cafeteria. Let me tell you, you haven't lived if you haven't eaten a grilled cheese sandwich at a Woolworth's! [You young people have no idea what you have missed!] And follow that with a malted milk! [Makes my mouth water just remembering it!]

Usually we had to make several trips to the parking garage to load our many packages into the trunk of the car. Then we'd head back out.

After a full day of shopping, we would head home, exhausted but so happy! Our next big event would be in Santa arriving on Christmas Eve! And we were now excited and waiting upon the jolly old man!

Mother always had everything purchased well in advance of Christmas! She started buying for Christmas immediately after the big day! Yes... she was a big one to frequent the after holiday sales. Sometimes having everything bought and wrapped before Easter rolled around!

I never had anyone in my family who waited until Christmas Eve to purchase gifts... that is until 1997, and my husband entered the scene. Every single year he is within one or two days of Christmas in purchasing gifts. But somehow, he manages to get me the nicest things! So... for him it works! As for me, this is probably the worst year of my procrastinating. But I finished up in plenty of time!

How about you?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 18

December 18 - Christmas Stockings

Did you have one?
I had a lovely stocking that Mother purchased for me as a baby. It had my name embroidered on it. I've looked for a photo of it, but can't seem to locate one. Unfortunately, that stocking was lost in a box of Christmas decorations during a military move. I was heart broken at the time, and felt I'd never have another. Since then, I've only ever used simple cheap ones. [But that may change next year, as I hope to hand make new ones for dh and dd and myself!]

Where did you hang it?
In the very early years, Mother hung our stockings on the back of chairs, or taped them to the wall. When filled, Santa would leave them under the tree, or propped up on a chair or the sofa. Later, Mother bought a terribly gaudy faux [cardboard] fireplace, and they were pinned to that. When I was a teenager we moved to the country where we had an actual mantle to hang our stockings! Mother purchased lovely stocking hangers, and they hung there. Today I have an electric fireplace [which I dearly love!] and our stockings hang from that.

What did you get in it?
We got nuts and fruits and a few little gifts from Santa. There were charm bracelets, earrings, a necklace, and a compact as I grew older. Sometimes there were socks, or unmentionables. Cologne was a favorite as well. Pencils and pens. Usually our stockings overflowed with goodies! I'm afraid they still do! Santa fills them, or rather overflows them all kinds of goodies!!!

Do you have any Christmas stockings used by your ancestors?
Unfortunately, no. Of the three grandparents I knew, all three told me that they hung their regular socks from the mantle on Christmas Eve. They all told me they'd get an orange or an apple and single piece of candy. Oftentimes, this was the only Christmas they received. But they were never disappointed. Later, as they became adults, they no longer hung stockings. But when Grandma Bean came to live with us when I was five, she had a stocking hanging with ours until her death, ten-years later.
Both of my parents hung regular stockings as children. And both received candy and fruit in theirs. However, Mother also received little gifts as well: earrings, a bracelet, other jewelry; cosmetics; and pencils.

Did you hang stockings as a child? What did you get in them? Do you still have your childhood stocking? Do you have an ancestors stocking?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 17

December 17 - Grab Bag

Author's choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!

Today I'd like to reflect on those Christmases Past that have held special meaning for me.

Most of these Christmases are so special, because they were so spartan! Yep... we didn't have two wooden nickels to rub together, but the occasion was made doubly special because of that.

The first came the winter that I turned 14. My Dad was away in the Navy. There was an Israeli crisis and we didn't know when we would next get to see him. Somehow, his allotment for Mother and the two of us girls had got messed up and we were receiving NO income! Mother had quit her long standing job with the Fleet Post Office in August, and we had moved to the mountains of West Virginia. Dad would be eligible for retirement in just 2-1/2 more years, and Mother had settled us near Dad's native home. We loved the old house that Mother and Dad intended to update and remodel themselves. But, as we settled down, Dad's pay was lost.

We literally ate Jello every night for dinner. Mother asked if we could glean over the neighbor's potato field after they had dug their potatoes. We recalled Ruth in the Bible, as she gleaned the wheat from Boaz's fields. And low and behold, we gleaned over 3 bushels of small potatoes! We also picked wild poke leaves from the plants that grew in the field behind our house. Mother said everyone around us said the stalks were poisonous, but the Foxfire books, which we'd recently discovered, said we could cut up the stalks and fry them. And so we did. They reminded us of okra! The greens we'd make into salad, or boil and eat as you would spinach or dandelion greens. An old family friend worked in the railroad. He was at an advanced age and was given the unlikely job of sweeping out boxcars after they delivered raw peanuts. As he swept them out, he'd separate the dirt from raw peanuts left in the corners of the cars. The peanuts he would bag up and bring to us. These we would boil in salt water to eat by themselves; shell them and put them in the blender and make homemade peanut butter; crush them - add a little oil to make a paste - then add cornmeal and an egg and fry this up for a good source of protein; and we made candy as well [roast the shelled peanuts with a little sugar to glaze them and oila! instant candy!].

Our neighbor used to pick up outdated produce for just pennies and bring to us. Although we never told him we were having it so rough, he instantly figured it out and his kindness fed us many nights!

On that particular Christmas, Mother told us that Santa would only be able to bring us one gift that year. And that she and Dad could only give us one gift as well. Money was simply almost nil! [We were getting by solely on what little savings Mother had put up before the move!] She told us to write down ten gifts we would like [there was only my younger sister and I back then], and she would pick the two gifts between those ten items we listed. That way we wouldn't be able to tell which gifts we were getting, and yet they would be something we truly wanted.

I can't remember what my sister chose. But I remember what I got that year: a plaid wool shirt-jacket [this was the country and all the girls wore them in my school! Mother said they made them look like boys... but Santa brought me one all the same!]; and an Andy Williams Christmas album [a 33 LP - yep...even 8-tracks weren't popular yet!].

Mother managed to buy a big roasting hen, and sweet potatoes and cranberries and a pumpkin pie. We had a BIG dinner for us! And then we sat around and played charades and other games that afternoon!
I had to really hunt to find this old picture....

...yep that's me on the right, and my little sister on the left reading. Our very first Christmas in the house in Gap Mills. It was fabulous! We loved it! Two very small gifts, but we felt like we had it all!

That was the only economically challenged Christmas we had as we were growing up. Since then, I've faced many such Christmases.

When married to my first husband, one year he drew me a pencil drawing of a bouquet of flowers [he was not an artist!] for my Christmas gift. I kept that little drawing for many years and treasured it, because it was something he gave from himself. From the heart. Nothing could have ever meant more to me!

These are two of the Christmases that stand out in my memory because of the tough times. But they are treasured memories!

Did you ever have a Christmas when purchasing gifts was impossible? Did you substitute something instead?

Do you tend to give elaborately at Christmas today? Or do you try to keep it simple and from the heart?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Grandma and Santa Claus

I don't know who the author of this piece is, but it is so lovely, and reminds me so of some of the members of my own sweet family, that I had to share:

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid.
I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted...."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!
I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.
"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."

The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, >From Santa Claus" on it.
Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.
Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were -- ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside:

May you always have LOVE to share,
HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care...

And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!"

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 16

December 16th - Christmas at School

What did you or your ancestors do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas pageant?

As I was growing up, it was common for the schools to hold  Christmas pageant. Each grade would do something special to contribute. The younger grades might sing some simple carols [ie: Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, etc.], while the older ones might tell and act out the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. Everyone had a part to play. The band, or orchestra [depending upon the school] might play music for the entire performance, or they might play as a group or individually [I was a violinist and often played for school performances].

I know that my mother performed in Christmas pageants at school. Dad says that he helped out, but did not perform. My Grandma Dreher told me once that they "didn't have time for such nonsense back then", as there was too much work to be done at home. [I think she simply didn't want to talk about it! LOL]

Grandpa Dreher once told me that he sang in school, and I can surely imagine that! He was a wonderful baritone singer as an older man! I can close my eyes and relax and still hear his wonderful voice as he sang "Stille Nacht" to me! [I miss you still Grandpa!]

Do you continue to participate in Christmas pageants? Did you as a child? Did your ancestors?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Be Sure to Watch CSI on CBS Tonight!

The Las Vegas crime lab is called in to process a victim where you would least expect.

When a man is found mysteriously murdered in the home of one of their own, the Las Vegas crime lab scrambles to solve the case. When the victim turns out to be a genealogist, the case will reveal a dark family secret.

Meanwhile, Greg Sanders’ (Eric Szmanda) interest in his own family history is renewed when he interviews a renowned geneaologist, Donna Hope (Pamela Reed), accurately tracks Greg’s family name to some well known historical figures.

The episode where crime hits home!

***The above was taken from the blog.

A Visit From Ol' Saint Nick

Yesterday I received this wonderful poem from Kim Melchior,  of Scandinavian Genealogical Research Center, and I was asked to pass it on to others who might enjoy it as well!

So, without further ado, I give you...

Genealogist's Christmas Eve

'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even my spouse.

   The dining room table with clutter was spread
With pedigree charts and with letters which said...
"Too bad about the data for which you wrote;
Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat."

Stacks of old copies of wills and such
Were proof that my work had become too much.

Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And I at my table was ready to drop
From work on my album with photos to crop.
Christmas was here, and such was my lot
That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot.

Had I not been busy with grandparents' wills,
I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills,
While others bought gifts to bring Christmas cheers,
I'd spent time researching those birth dates and years.

While I was thus musing about my sad plight,
A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright.
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the drapes and yanked up the sash.

   When what with my wondering eyes should appear,
But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer.
Up to the house top the reindeer they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys and 'ole Santa Claus, too.

And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs.
As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash,
Down the cold chimney fell Santa--KER-RASH!

   "Dear" Santa had come from the roof in a wreck,
And tracked soot on the carpet, (I could wring his short neck!)
Spotting my face, good 'ole Santa could see
I had no Christmas spirit you'd have to agree.

   He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings, (I felt like a jerk).
Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy:
When I'd been too busy for even one toy.

He spied my research on the table all spread
"A genealogist!" He cried! (My face was all red!)
"Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned,
As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

   I gazed with amusement--the cover it read
Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Plead.
"I know what it's like as a genealogy bug."
He said as he gave me a great Santa hug.

"While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,
I do some research in the North Pole Library!
A special treat I am thus able to bring,
To genealogy folk who can't find a thing."

"Now off you go to your bed for a rest,
I'll clean up the house from this genealogy mess."
As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,
I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me.

   While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle,
To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
"Family history is Fun! Merry Christmas! Goodnight!"

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 14

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 fruitcakes?

My Favorite Fruitcake

Did I like fruitcake? Well, count me among those who are slightly odd, because I am one of those rare individuals who loves fruitcake! I especially love it with a cup of steaming Earl Grey tea. [I think the slight floral taste of Earl Grey totally compliments the rich flavor of homemade fruitcake!]

I do not particularly care for the supermarket kind of fruitcake, which is nothing at all like the old English version, nor the homemade version that I make. But, instead, I love the rum soaked, spicier version. Which I make and serve year round. Allowing the fruit to actually ferment before the baking process for at least a month. Sometimes longer!

My family may have received a few of those supermarket fruitcakes when I was growing up [I really can't recall]. I know that for years my parents special ordered an old English fruitcake. It was cut into very thin slices, and we savored it throughout the holiday season. When I became a teen, my mother then began trading that off for her 30-Day Friendship Cake. Which wasn't bad, but which lacked the real fruitcake flavor. After I married, my mother began to send me a special ordered fruitcake since I was seldom able to get home for the holidays, being married to a man in the military. It always made me feel a little closer to home somehow!

Later, as my own children became teens, I discovered a wonderful old recipe for fruitcake, in a cookbook that was out-of-print more than 200 years ago! I slightly adapted it, tweaked it for a more modern version, and found that it was my absolute favorite of all time! So, now, for months before Christmas I am baking and spicing, and then freezing the cakes until time for Christmas gift-giving. And yes, I am asked to bake these! [As well as the English plum pudding! Which is such a chore, I seldom make it except for my own family!]

Have I ever re-gifted fruitcake? Sad to admit this, but yes I have. A couple of times when a well-meaning neighbor has given me one, and someone showed up unexpected, I have re-gifted them. But I have always felt ashamed for doing so! [I also laugh that I didn't just throw them away when I received them!]

Did I ever devise a creatve use for a fruitcake? Well, yes, I did. A couple of years ago, I helped to design a shop window for Christmas. I had a fruitcake, and we shellacked it and set it at a child's table for a dolly tea-party theme at Christmas. Everyone loved it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 13

Holiday Travel -
Did you or your ancestors travel anwhere for Christmas?
I do not know if any of my ancestors traveled for Christmas, but suspect that they did not, as they all lived within short distances of the rest of their families.

To the best of my knowledge, we traveled twice during my growing years at Christmas. Once, when I was about 4 spending Christmas with my Grandma Bean in West Virginia. And another time, when I was about 10, spending Christmas with my Grandma and Grandpa Dreher, in Indiana/

How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?
We traveled by car for both of the above trips. Which was no small feat in those days, and the Interstate system did not extend all the way in either of those directions! It was a full days trip to get to West Virginia back then from Norfolk, Virginia. And it took two days of hard driving to get to Indiana!

Those are the only Christmas trips that I can recall. Most years, Daddy was gone, board a ship at sea [he was a career US Navy sailor]. Usually it was simply Mom, my sister and I at home. So travel was not a real option for us. [Back then, young ladies did not travel alone so much, and especially long distances with two small children in tow!]

Tennessee-an Uses Dousing Rods For Cemetery Hunt

John Lodl often heard Rutherford County’s old-timers talk of the divining rods, swearing by their eerie movements as proof positive of bodies buried below.

No headstone, no matter, they said. In the hands of the right person, the wavering of the rods could say more about a cemetery than the aged records that Lodl, bearded and bespectacled but youthful at 37, oversees in the local archives.

One day last winter, Lodl went from skeptical to startled.

In a secluded cemetery in Eagleville, he watched a woman balance a pair of plain old coat hangers on her fingers and walk the field.

“Sure enough, when you cross over a grave, those things cross,” Lodl said. “I can’t explain it. But it works.”

This area has always fascinated me. Why? Because I have been an eye-witness to dousing that worked! My Dad douses with  flexible tree branches [willow or peach tree work best], or with welding rods [metal]. So, yes, this has been something I follow frequently.

You can read more about John Lodl and his hunt here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 12

Charitable/ Volunteer Work

Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women's shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?

I grew up in a Naval town, and while there were the YMCA for the homeless, I don't ever recall any other organization for the needy at that time.

However, we later moved to the mountains of West Virginia, and here my family became very active in the church. Each Christmas a food and toy drive were held for the needy and my parents were always right in the middle of it. We would help to deliver the many boxes of goodies for the needy on Christmas Eve.

While my parents did this, I do not ever recall my Grandparents speaking of doing this. Although I know that they were quick to assist anyone in need at any time of the year!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 11

Other Traditions

Did your famly or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa?
No. I friends were all Protestants like us, and the community celebrated Christmas only.

Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions from their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?
Most of my family immigrated during the 1850's and 1860's, therefore if they brought over any traditions for Christmas, they have long since been abandoned. [We do still honor the German Ne Year traditional feast - pork to move forward in the year; sauerkraut to add flavor to our lives; and black-eye peas so that we will see clearly in the New Year; and something sweet that we may retain a sweet savor in our lives.] My Bean ancestors arrived before 1800, and also lost any traditions they may have carried over, adopting the mountain ways of western Virginia and West Virginia.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun...Blog Caroling

Randy has given us another fun challenge!

So it's Saturday Night again, so let's have some Genealogy Fun!!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1) Identify your absolute favorite Christmas Carol or Holiday song.

2) Share your favorite carol or song in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post or google Plus stream post.

3) For extra credit, post an audio or video of the carol or song (almost all are on and the words to the song. Add the background of the song, and the artists if you can find them.

4) Enjoy the memories and feelings that the carol or song brings to your heart and mind, and share them too!
This was so simple for me! Some people have several Christmas carol favorites. But none touch me more than Silent Night.  Or rather, Stille Nacht as sung by my grandpa Dreher. I would get him to sing it to me all seasons, not just at Christmas.

Wikipedia has this to say about the song:
"The original lyrics of the song "Stille Nacht" were written in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, by the priest Father Joseph Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1859, John Freeman Young (second Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida) published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.  The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber's original, which was a sprightly, dance-like tune in 6/8 time, as opposed to the slow, meditative lullaby version generally sung today. Today, the lyrics and melody are in the public domain.

A version recorded by Bing Crosby is one of the fewer than thirty all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) copies worldwide."

In German [Deutsch] the words are:

Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund
, Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816
Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818


Silent night, holy night
All is calm all is bright
'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia;
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

I searched for just the perfect sung version, and this is one that reminds me so much of the gentle voice that my Grandpa had, except he was a baritone! Enjoy!

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 10

Christmas Gifts

What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

Well, this wasn't a difficult task for me! As a child I only wanted two items more than anything else: Barbie and a bike.

I actually had one of the original Barbie  dolls [as well as an original Ken! Barbie's rather handsome boyfriend!]

Barbie from 1959

Ken 1961

I also got one of the very first spider bikes for girls!

[Yes... that's a gear shift on a ridculously small bike! LOL]

Before this, I'd had a huge English Racer.

I do remember one Christmas when I was about 6, asking Santa for PF Flyers, because I wanted to run fast!

As I recall, Santa informed me those were for little boys, and NOT for little girls!
Of course, Mama set me straight. That was simply a department store Santa and I should write the real Santa a letter and ask him for a pair of PF Flyers. Which, of course, he kindly obliged and left under the tree for me to find on Christmas morning! After which, I am certain I ran twice as fast as before!

My family has always been big on giving gifts that were hand crafted. We still are! This year every gift I am giving is hand made! When you consider the time, and love, injected into whatever you make, the gift becomes priceless. My grandma Dreher crocheted and quilted. I have many wonderful pieces that she gave me! Mama crocheted and sewed! [She is unable to do so now, and has made Visa pre-paid cards her gift of choice.] My grandpa Dreher was a master carpenter and he made wonderful gifts of wood. As did my Dad for many years.

My favorite gifts to give are also handmade.

Here's a few I am giving this year...
hand knit cabled wrist warmers

hand crocheted slippers...

hand knit lace wrist warmers....

hand crocheted Irish Rose lace scarf....

...and even the gift bags are hand crafted!

Of all the gifts that I could receive today, something hand crafted by the person giving it to me is more treasured than anything else!

What about you? Do you ever hand craft a gift? Or if not, do you have any gift-giving traditions in your family?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 8

Christmas Cookies

Did your family or ancestors make Christmas cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

I can't recall either of my grandmother's ever baking cookies for me. On a rare occasion, Mother did. As long as it was something that didn't require her to roll out the dough! LOL Mother simply didn't do that!

She did, however, always make sure that we had Christmas cookies...

...usually bought in a bag at the super market, although on occasion bought from a local bakery.

I loved the gay colors and how exciting it was to have them with a cup of egg nog on Christmas Eve!

But my absolute favorite of all time was the simple...

...gingerbread man!

When making them myself, I grated my own ginger so that the cookies had a zesty spice, almost like a ginger snap cookie! Yummy! Pair them with egg nog, or hot cocoa, and you have a treat you will certainly savor on Christmas Eve!!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 3

December 3 - Christmas Tree Ornaments
Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn o cranberries? Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?

Mama had the most amazing German mercury glass ornaments when I was a child. I am sure they are still at my sister's; packed away in tissue paper in one of the cardboard boxes that Mama kept them.

I used to love to carefully remove the many ornaments from their packing and help to hang them on the tree! There were bells, like the ones above; miniature Santa's, and long cone shaped icicles. And when the lights from the tree reflected from these treasures, they were absolutely beautiful to me!

As the years wore on, Mama often crocheted simple ornaments for the tree. And I have continued to do this. I have made icicles, snowflakes, garland, angels and many more items.

My Grandma Dreher also crocheted and in her later years helped to make some crocheted ornaments. My Grandma Bean made corn husk ornaments an simple wheat sheaf wreaths.

I still string popcorn for the tree every year! Although when I have made a designer tree I sometimes hang the popcorn from the mantle rather than the tree!

Did your ancestors make homemade ornaments? Did or do you now? Do you ever string popcorn?

These are traditions that we can pass onto our children and our grandchildren.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 2

Holiday Foods
Did your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays? Was there one dish that was unusual?

This wasn't a hard one to come up with! Grandpa Dreher's favorite dish was sauerkraut with pork and potatoes.

Cooked slowly together all day in a Dutch oven on the stove top, or baked in a slow oven, this was a treat!

I still make this dish, especially for New Year's dinner, throwing in a little black eyed peas on the side, and a little cranberries for sweetness.

Grandpa once told me that Grandma Dreher made this to his liking, but no one could make it to compare to his Grandmother, who immigrated to this country from Germany's Rhineland region.

On my Dad's side of the family, Christmas dinner was usually the time when the prize ham was cooked. Sometimes with a rich gravy, and others baked sweet with brown sugar glazes and wild cherries. And I usually have a ham for Christmas as well.

What did your ancestors serve for Christmas? Do you still follow in their traditions?
  • Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 1

    December 1 - The Christmas Tree

    Today we begin our annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, thanks to the prompts of Thomas MacEntee over at GeneaBloggers. 

    I absolutely LOVE this time of year! And this blogging prompt! A couple of years ago, I even took the calendar as posted to this blog, and had it printed into a book for my parents. Now, they are able to look at it and see what Christmas has become to me, thanks to their wonderful upbringing!

    So, we begin with the very first day of our journey. Let's look at Christmas trees!

    Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

    As a youngster, growing up in the naval port of Norfolk, Virginia, where my Dad was stationed for nearly twenty years, I can remember having a live tree for the earliest years. Dad was gone at sea most of the time, and Mom would pick one out in a lot. She'd look for the fullest tree she could find! I can remember when I was about 5 holding the tree upright so that Mom could stand back and see if it had any "holes" [bare patches].

    Oh, how I loved the wonderful scent of pine! [Still do!] Most of the trees that I can recall were soft, southern pines, with those long needles. I still like those, but my absolute favorites are the short needle versions of firs. A more beautiful site than a Douglas Fir simply does not exist!

    As I got a little older, and we progressed up the financial rungs, and Mom and Dad bought a new home in a very nice neighborhood, Mama went from a live tree to an artificial one. Because there was no need for watering it, and there were no shed needles to have to vacuum up from the carpet!

    I learned to "like" an artificial tree. And many today are so realistic looking, you almost wonder! However, the scent and feel are lost. So my absolute favorites are still live trees.  Even though the expense overwhelms me! [This year we will drag out our artifical tree yet once more, and hope for enough cash stashed away next year to get a live tree again!]

    Most of my personal photographs are in storage, yet to be brough back in our home [I really should go get them!]. But I found a few...

    This was my second Christmas. When I was 13 months old. We had just moved to Norfolk, Virginia. This would be the last Christmas I was an only child! LOL You can see our tiny [almost Charlie Brown-esque] Christmas tree on the table above me.

    This was Christmas I was two years old. My baby sister had been born in August. You can see here that Mama had improved with a full-sized tree!

    Although a little fuzzy [can you say "Brownie Instamatic?], this was when I was in the 3rd grade.
    [Remember wool jumpers?] Again, a live tree. About 5-foot tall, but very full!

    By 1977, I was married, and we were living in a tiny two-room flat in Killeen, Texas. Downtown [think red-light district!], and I loved my neighbors! We lived in an end unit, and to our right was a male prostitute, who watched out for me when he knew I was alone. [Our walls were paper thin. He could hear our conversations, and I could easily hear his! What an eye opener that was! Ha ha] Third door down from us was a retired cowboy. Yes, a real cowboy. He cooked me the best cornbread I've ever eaten over an open fire in a pit in our back lot! And I loaned him books. Which he reciprocated with cowboy novels. I introduced him to romance, and he introduced me Louis L'amour, Zane Grey, and a multitude of westerns! [And I love those to this day!]

    Our tree was only 18-inches tall. And our ornaments were tiny little things I found at the dime store. The little nativity set was one made from plaster of paris that Mom sent to me unpainted. I bought a multi-pack of model paints and painted them. I used that set for years!!!

    In 1979 we didn't have a tree. We were living in a small one-bedroom apartment in Germany. The day we were able to take the bus to the country to pick out a tree, I was sick with the flu!
    We made due with a poster of Santa, hung on the wall.
    I hung garland around it. And placed our gifts on the floor in front of it. And this was my oldest son's first "Christmas Tree". We loved it!

    In November of 1981 I gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. That's me with them in front of our "stolen" Christmas tree. By now we lived outside the small village of Freihung, Germany. And we literally stopped while taking a long drive through country lanes and cut a small tree for this Christmas! The star on top was carfted by my ex-husband from cardboard and aluminum foil. We bought a single 12-pack of silver foil bulbs, no lights, silver tinsel and garland, and we strung popcorn.
    Wasn't it beautiful? We thought so!!! But with those precious babies in front of it, you really can't see the tree for the way they are shining! 5-lbs 6-oz and 6-lbs 4-oz at birth!

    In 1981, in our little home in Ludowici, Georgia. [Note the Smurf stroller my daughter got!]

    This was an artificial tree. And it was a re-gifted tree. It wasn't even new. But I used it for several years!!!

    That's me in 1987. This is another artificial tree, with my crocheted angel tree-topper. By now I had five children, and was a student in a nursing program. [On this Christmas, my three boys found switches bundled and tied with a ribbon under the tree, and the girls found sacks of coal in their stockings! All but one laughed and thought it funny. The one who didn't cried and cried! I would never do that to a child ever again!!! [He thought he got the switches because Santa had put him on the naughty list, even though he had a ton of other gifts under the tree!!!] Broke my heart.

    Jump forward to 1991. I didn't find one of my house, but we spent the day with my sister. And she had a lovely small artifical tree there in the corner. That's me playing the piano, and her kneeling beside me. Every year we sing carol's together after we open gifts. It's my favorite part of Christmas!
    Dad joins in as well! We may not be professional, but it's pure love!

    In 1998 I married Texican. He and I have had two real trees in our 14 years of Christmas together, beginning in 1997. One in 2002, and again in 2004. I can't find pictures of either right now. But the last one [2004] was so extravagant! It was done all in crystal and white. Beautiful crystal bulbs and snow white snowflakes that I had hand crocheted. It was a beautiful 7-foot fir. And the scent was heavenly! [That tree set us back $75!!!] But was worth every single penny!!!

    In 2007 I was living in a 1959 8 x 40 - foot travel trailer! Here's the tiny little tree I had then. All in silver and white! Loved it!

    Then in 2008 we moved into the home we are in now.

    Here is our tree from 2009. Again all silver, gold and white. Compact but it was fun!

    Then in 2010 I decided to do an ancestry tree!

    Over 45 small acrylic holders hold images of mine and Texican's ancestors!

    Here's a closeup of the pictures on the tree.

    And here it is lit at night.
    Loved it!

    And this year's isn't up yet. [Tomorrow or Saturday!]

    My ancestors had 6 or 7 foot pines that they cut from their own property. My Grandma Dreher remembered having a tree with only ornaments and no lights. While my Grandma Bean could tell me about a tree with paper chains, handmade fabric bows and popcorn strung. She said they also strung acorns. Sometimes gathered feathers and sewed them into a bundle with fabric ribbons and hung upon the tree. Both couldn't remember a topper on the tree.

    Grandpa Dreher remembered candles on his tree. [He was second generation German-American. And his family carried over the old country ways, including speaking in German while at home.]

    I think I would like to have a tree that had only handmade ornaments. And that might be something to aspire to for next year!

    What kind of trees have you had? What kind did your ancestors have?

    What kind will you have this year?