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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

christmastourbnr

Denise Olson, at Moultrie Creek is hosting the Christmas Tour of Blogs that will kick off on Dec. 15th. Genea-bloggers are encouraged to create a post describing their family’s Christmas decorations – past or present.

So sit back and enjoy my tour!

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This is the gold wreath – made out of newspapers and painted with gold spray paint – that my mom made for our home when I was growing up.  It hung above our fireplace mantel.  On the mantel were Christmas decorations. 

 

 

60s-83This was the garland hung around the wrought iron railing by the front door.

 

 

 

 

60s-130Me in front of the Christmas tree probably about 1969-1970.  Notice the end table next to the tree has the red Christmas candles on it.  Our windows also had a single electric candle that we lit after the sun had gone down.  For a few years we even decorated the fir trees in our front yard with lights.   In the photo below, you’ll notice that our large, picture window had several of these “candles” on the sill.

 

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My first real “adult” Christmas in my own apartment included a wicker chair strung with garland and red satin balls because I was too poor to afford a Christmas tree!  The first tree I bought was in 1984 at the local Gibsons that cost $14!  It was pretty lonely looking (sort of like the tree on “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) until the lights, decorations and tinsel was put on.

We moved into our home 20 years ago, so we have had two decades of creating new and wonderful memories at Christmas time.  My husband would bring the tree and all the decorations down from the attic either the first or second weekend of December.  After setting up the tree and stringing the lights, I would hand each child one ornament at a time to place on the branches.  Of course as they grew older, they each had several of their “school” made decorations to use.  For the very first ornament, I took a picture and once the entire tree was decorated (after I hung the garland or threw the tinsel), I would position them on the floor gazing up at the tree in wonder for a photo.

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Generally the only other decorations that go up are the Santa Stocking, given to our youngest daughter many years ago by some good church friends, the Christmas Wreath (it has changed only a few times in 20 years),

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and the gold “Jingle Bell” that hangs between our dining and living room.  The bell belonged to my grandparents and as a child, I loved to pull the string and hear the tune as Santa and his reindeer (on the outside) spun around it.  I was fortunate enough to end up with it many years ago.  If you look at to the upper right of the tree over the floor lamp, you can see the bell.)  My children have on occasion put lights in their bedroom windows and once I wrapped holly vines over the top of the living room arch.

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I’ve either strung regular silver garland on the tree or “thrown” tinsel on each branch.  However, the tree above (2003), I strung pearl beads as garland.  The tree to the right (2006) I draped ribbon down from the top with bows tied on each length at different intervals. (The Jingle Bell is more visible in this picture.)

We’ve had the tree in two different places in our home.  For the last ten years (at least) it has sat in this exact spot.  This tree was purchased at an after Christmas sale, many years ago for half off the sale price!  In 1999 some good friends were moving and gave us their pre-lit Christmas tree.  It had so many white lights on it that we could feel the heat as soon as we walked into the room.  Needless to say we gave it to our oldest daughter the following year and went back to using our well loved tree.

I hope you have enjoyed my tour of Christmases past and present.  And may your family have a very Merry Christmas!

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This post was written for the 62nd Carnival of Genealogy, 3 Wishes.  The topic suggests: Make a list of 3 gifts you would like to receive this holiday season from 3 of your ancestors. These have to be material things, not clues to your family history (we’re talking gifts here, not miracles!). Do you wish your great grandmother had gifted you a cameo broach? Or maybe you’d like to have the family bible from great great grandpa Joe? How about a baby doll that once belonged to your dear Aunt Sarah? This is a fantasy so you can dream up gift items. They don’t have to be actual items that you know your ancestors owned. However, they do have to be historically accurate to the time period in which your ancestor lived. Do your research. No asking for a new computer from your great grand aunt! Genea-Santa wouldn’t like that.

Dear Santa,

Could you please leave the following items under my tree:

  1. The Amore photo/scrapbook.  My Uncle Gail began this book back in the late 1960s.  The last we knew, it was in the possession of my cousin, June, who hasn’t been communicative with any of the relatives in a long time.  I believe there are pictures in there of the first Amore-Werts reunion as well as the other Amore reunions and the siblings reunions of years past.  All I want to do is scan the photos and memorabilia and then June can have it back.
  2. The box of “lost” photos.  When I was about 12, my mom and I went through a box that had lots of ancestor photos.  Some of those pictures were of “funeral” pictures (those who had died in their caskets laid out in the parlors).  When I finally had the nerve about 5 years later to look at them again, the box of photos went missing.  Try as I might, I can not locate them at my mom’s (we had moved in the mean time).  Again, if one of my relatives ended up with this box, all I want to do is scan the photos and they can have it back!
  3. DVDs of all the slides my grandparents took (I believe one of my cousins has  the slides!) and a CD of all their reel-to-reel tapes (I’m sure there are more than what my brother had in his possession) so I can see the world through their eyes via their pictures and hear their voices on more than one CD.

I’ve tried to be a very good genealogist this year!  And, Santa, I will leave you a wonderful snack so you can keep up your stamina as you visit all the other houses in the world on Christmas Eve!

Thanks so much!

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Several genea-bloggers have been playing along on a Christmas meme that Lori at Smoky Mountain Family Historian found. So I’ll bite!

Wrapping paper or gift bags?   Wrapping Paper (I only use bags for showers or birthdays).

Real tree or Artificial? – Artificial. I think it’s much safer plus I kill any live plants!

When do you put up the tree? Last couple years it has been Thanksgiving weekend because my oldest daughter has been here to help.  In the past it was usually around the 10th of December.

When do you take the tree down? New Years or a couple days later – sometimes we leave it up until Epiphany.

Do you like eggnog? Yes but since I don’t consume eggs (or try not to) anymore – I haven’t had any in 2 years!

Favorite gift received as a child?  A special doll I had requested.

Hardest person to buy for?  People who won’t give me their Christmas lists!

Easiest person to buy for? My grandsons.

Do you have a nativity scene? Yes – I got it for Christmas several years ago & it has sat on top of the TV set (it’s real small) all year round ever since!

Mail or email Christmas cards? I send them in the mail & then email my “letter” to people I don’t have a mailing address for or distant genealogy cousins!

Worst Christmas gift you ever received?  I’m a firm believer that it’s the thought that counts so I don’t consider anything the “worst”.

Favorite Christmas Movie?  It’s a Wonderful Life.

When do you start shopping for Christmas?  Sometime after Thanksgiving and before Christmas Eve!

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No.

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?  Cookies and Butterscotch Pie if I make it.  This year it will be Wing Stop wings on Christmas Eve after church.

Lights on the tree? You bet!

Favorite Christmas song?  Mary, Did You Know (Kenny Rogers/Wynonna Judd), Silent Night, The First Noel (sorry can’t pick just one!)

Travel at Christmas or stay home?  As long as Santa visits our house, we stay at home! 

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?  Yes.

Angel on the tree top or a star? We have an Angel but at one time I put a great big red velvet bow & my family thought I was nuts so we don’t do that anymore.  My mom put white doves on the top of her tree.

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Always Christmas morning – after the family sits down to eat breakfast.  My husband has had me open things on Christmas Eve but I prefer the next morning.

Most annoying thing about this time of the year?  The cold weather & people who take their kids to the store to shop for Christmas – especially when they allow said children to play with every single toy & then leave them in the aisles. 

Favorite ornament theme or color? I always said that someday I would do a theme but haven’t done that. Instead I’m doing the “sepia” or old fashioned ribbon & bows to drape on the tree.

Favorite for Christmas dinner?  Turkey dinner & all the stuff that goes with it.

What do you want for Christmas this year?  Good health for everyone & a prosperous new year coming up.  And a David Cook CD would be nice!

Julie also added a question: 

What is your favorite thing about the holidays?  The Spirit of the Season.  After Christmas Eve church service the family convening at our house for “appetizer” dinner, reading the Night Before Christmas to the children (even the adult children!) and the Nativity Story and then waiting on Santa to arrive!

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Miriam Robbins Midkiff, of Ancestories2 and Ancestories issued a new word prompt on her Ancestories2 blog. The word prompt is Fall.

“How do you feel about fall? Is it a favorite season, or do you prefer another?”

When I was growing up in southwestern Ohio, I loved fall!  The changing colors, going back to school, Fall Festivals at schools and around the community, the smell of a fire in the fireplace, the warmth of “Indian Summer” days, and the beginning of the new television schedule!

“What are you favorite fall activities (indoor or out)?”

Once we had a “weeny” roast at my brother’s house in their outdoor firepit.  The temp was in the low 40s so everyone was bundled in coats and hats and either sat out by the fire or in their enclosed patio area.  My sister-in-law made hot apple cider complete with real cinnamon sticks and cloves.  After the hot dog dinner, we all roasted marshmallows over the fire.  Another activity I enjoyed as a kid was the large piles of leaves we would jump into!  As an adult one of our annual activities includes attending our community’s Western Day festival in the old part of our city.  There is lots of history to the shops on Main Street.  Each year there are bands that play on the stages set up, a longhorn cattle drive down Main Street along with a parade, gun fight re-enactments, and a chance to catch up with people I don’t see very often.

“What are your favorite fall sports (to watch or play)?”

In high school the thing to do was go to the football games each Friday at home and spend most of the game wandering below the stands socializing!  Then after the game we’d all meet up at the local pizza hangout.  Living in Texas now (especially when I had children in high school), Friday nights just aren’t the same unless we are at the local high school football game!  Between the annual rivalry game that was played at Texas Stadium in Irving and having a son in band for many years, we always spent home games on Fridays at the high school stadium – eating hot dogs or nachos and hoping for our team to win!

“Do you have a favorite fall outfit to wear?  Cordouroy slacks and plaid flannel shirt, a cozy sweater, etc.?”

I don’t necessarily have a fall outfit that I pull out at the first sign of chilly weather but I have a pair of flannel pajamas that are nice and warm that I only wear in the fall and winter (and here in Texas that is only when the temps are low).  I have a nice pair of lined wool slacks that I wear to church when the weather is cool to keep my legs warm. 

“Do you have any particular household or garden chores that you regularly do just in autumn?”

No – other than get the living room set up in order to put up the Christmas Tree after Thanksgiving.

“Have you ever gone leaf peeping?”

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Well I had to google this term as it’s not something I’ve ever heard before!  I guess you could say that on my recent road trip from Texas to Ohio a couple weeks ago, I did take pictures of the trees and changing leaves as we made our way north.  Where I’m at the leaves change & fall – no chance to photograph them unless you are really quick!  I see a lot of interesting colors on the leaves that have already fallen – not much on the trees themselves!  But I love to look at others’ pictures of fall foilage!

“What observances of nature do you regularly watch (birds flying south, squirrels preparing for winter, etc.)?”

The birds come here – so instead of watching them fly south (like I did when I was young & in Ohio), I watch them land in my yard.  Then I watch the dog chase them away!  I do see some squirrels around – but they are mainly sitting on the fence antagonizing the dog! 

“What flowers that bloom during this season do you especially like?”

Many years ago when my second oldest daughter was in the high school choir, one of their fundraisers was selling pansies in October.  We ordered quite a few and planted them in an circular garden out front and then in an area in the back.  They stayed really pretty clear through the fall and most of the winter.  Of course they were purple pansies! 

pa140040“Do you visit any orchards, pumpkin patches or corn mazes?”

A few years ago I took one of my grandsons to the local pumpkin patch in mid-October.  There were many child-friendly activities for him, and we also took a hayride around the pumpkin patch. 

“What about the local fair?”

I’ve only been to the county fair once and that was only because my daughter’s choir was performing.  Our Texas State Fair is held in the fall but I have never gone.  Too many people, not thrilled with the (lack of) security, too expensive and not my cup of tea!  When I was in Junior High, my mom and I worked the school’s PTA fall fair.  We spent several hours in the soda truck selling sodas to fair-goers.  That was always a lot of fun – unfortunately for a few days afterwards I would always come down with laryngitus!

“Do you do any kind of harvesting or food preparation (canning, drying, smoking)?

No! Nada!

“What about hunting?”

No – never had the opportunity or place to go.

“Do you do any kind of fall traveling, other than holiday travels?”

Growing up we’d usually go visit my mom’s brother in Battle Creek and/or my dad’s two brothers outside of Detroit.  In 1966 my parents and I took a month long trip from Ohio to California and back in the fall.  And a couple weeks ago my sister and I took a road trip from Texas to Ohio to visit our Mom.  The other trips my family has taken have all been Thanksgiving trips to the farm in Missouri.

pb270365“Which is your favorite fall holiday, and why (Hallowe’en, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, or others)?

I always loved Halloween growing up because it allowed me to indulge my passion to dress up in different costumes.  I still love the holiday and watching my kids and now my grandkids dress up in costume and have fun!  Thanksgiving has always come in a close second (as my birthday is really close to Thanksgiving!) – with family around, lots of food, and of course the Cowboys football game!

“What are your favorite fresh foods that are in season at this time? Favorite fall recipes or beverages?”

Pumpkin pie!  I also hated sweet potatoes as a kid and it’s only been in the last 15 years that I’ve been able to eat them willingly!  I love baked sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar on them as well as sweet potato casserole.  I look forward to apple cider in the fall and making a cauliflower casserole.  I’m also not a turkey all year round person!  So I look forward to cooking the big bird at Thanksgiving along with all the trimmings.  Until I stopped eating whole eggs, I looked forward to the first jugs of egg nog in the supermarket!  Those containers never last long at my house!

“Share favorite fall memories from your childhood.”

This particular memory has to be from my teen years.  Since I loved Halloween but at age 13 was “too old” to go out on beggar’s night any more, I looked forward to having a costume party.  The only problem was I wasn’t allowed to have a “boy/girl” party until I was 16 and since my birthday fell after Halloween (and after Thanksgiving!), I lobbied for and won the debate and was able to have my costume party at age 15 right before my birthday.  The theme was to come dressed as your favorite rock star or musician or celebrity.  There were about 15 people there which my brother insisted that he “chaperone”.  After an hour in the basement listening to our 70s music and watching us talk and dance, my brother went up to sit with my mom proclaiming us “Boring” (which meant we weren’t doing anything we shouldn’t be doing!).  My other favorite autumn memories are of my birthdays.  As a child I’d have friends or neighbors over to celebrate.  Normally we still had family in town from the Thanksgiving holiday.  Many times we had left over turkey – which ceased when I was about 13 and started insisting on pizza.  As a teen there were slumber parties on or close to my birthday.  An equally fun memory was going to the local charity run “haunted houses” as a teenager.  That was when they only cost $1 to get in and volunteers ran and acted in the houses.  All the money went to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  A bunch of us – either high school friends or my church youth group would go a few weekends prior to Halloween and have fun.  For awhile a friend and I would always walk the annual “Hike for the Handicap” or March of Dimes walk each fall.  Normally it would be about a ten-mile trek around one of the neighboring cities.  We didn’t raise much money but we sure had a good time.  And a few years ago, my daughter and I participated in the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Dallas.

“What do you like least about this season?”

The unpredictable weather!  Here in Texas Halloween normally marks the time when the weather turns really cold and biting – but this year it was still warm and nice. 

“What family birthdays, anniversaries, or events are commemorated in the fall?  Are there any signficant family history events that occurred during the summer?”

My mother’s birthday is at the end of September and as a young teen, I always made sure to make her a cake and employed some of my friends to help me surprise her when she got home from work.  My birthday is in November and my sister’s and my daughter’s wedding anniversaries are in October. 

What about you?  What are your answers?

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This post was written on July 13, 2008 and has been updated for the 61st Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy!

Webster’s Online Dictionary defines Tradition as: 1 a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom) b: a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable2: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction3: cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions4: characteristic manner, method, or style <in the best liberal tradition>”  It is Synonomous with: convention, custom.  Related words include: ethic, form, mode, mores, norm, values; birthright, inheritance, legacy; folklore, lore, superstition; culture, heritage, lifestyle.

Many families have passed down traditions such as:

  • A family story that has been told to each generation.
  • A custom associated with an event (wedding, holiday, birth, etc.)
  • An heirloom that has a certain function at a certain time.

There are many others.  As you’ve accumulated information about your ancestors and distant relatives, what traditions – or customs – have you found AND recorded?  In small towns or villages in Germany there is a wedding custom of “kidnapping the bride”.  German Wedding Traditions list this tradition as: “kidnap the bride and the groom has to find her. Normally, he has to search in a lot of pubs and invite all people in there (or pay the whole bill). Sometimes this ritual ends badly.”  Irish Wedding Traditions mentions that “An old Irish tradition calls for the wedding couple to walk to the church together before exchanging their wedding vows. As they walk down the main street to the chapel, onlookers would not only throw rice to bless the marriage, but larger items as well, such as pots and pans.”  Holiday Traditions – England mentions that “The day after Christmas is known in Britain as Boxing Day, which takes its name from a former custom of giving a Christmas Box – a gift of money or food inside a box – to the deliverymen and tradespeople who called regularly during the year. This tradition survives in the custom of tipping the milkman, postman, dustmen and other callers of good service at Christmas time.”  And in America, we know that the tradition on July 4th is to view fireworks as a celebration of our Independence.

Yet, sometimes it’s the unusual traditions that tell us more about our ancestors.  We may learn important things about their character, their financial situation, their environment or even why a tradition changed.

My family has the usual traditions:

  • Christmas Eve meant going to services at church and coming home to await Santa Claus’ visit.  How it evolved – when my own children were small, we’d go look at Christmas lights after church and then come home to a “finger food/appetizer” type of meal.  Afterwards I read “The Night Before Christmas” and the Biblical Nativity story.  Then to bed for the kids!
  • Memorial Day was the first day my grandfather bought a watermelon and we’d have a picnic.  How it evolved – with both of us working, most of the time Memorial Day is just a Monday we are off work and take a moment of reflection to honor and remember those who gave their lives or a part of their time to serve our country.
  • July 4th – we’d go to parades and then watch fireworks.  How it evolved – if we are at my in-laws’ in Missouri (where it is legal to shoot fireworks) – they are being popped all day long!  If we are at home, it means our big church ice cream social and watching the fireworks from the parking lot (which has a great view!).pb270363
  • Thanksgiving – a large family dinner, watching a football game, and the men sleeping.  How it evolved – not much!  Except sometimes even Mom gets to nap!
  • New Years Day – we would have roast beef or roast pork and watch the parades as soon as they began in the morning and then the Rose Bowl Game (especially when Ohio State was playing!)  How it evolved – since I live in Texas and am now required (since I’m in the south) to cook black eyed peas, I fix a big pot of them with cornbread and ham.  Sometimes I’ll have pork and sauerkraut too (just to cover my northern roots!).  Only the grandson really watches the parades and when was the last time Ohio State was in the Rose Bowl?  There’s no more Cotton Bowl parade (which is pretty local!).  Generally the Christmas Tree is being taken down as well.christmas-looking-at-tree
  • Putting up the Christmas Tree – I really don’t remember much traditions associated with this except I loved to hang these ornaments of my mom’s that looked like huge, red teardrop earrings and I was allowed to hang the ornaments I’d made.  I enjoyed watching my mom decorate our house more than anything.  How it evolved – I don’t have a lot of stuff to decorate the house (because that would mean having a place to store it afterwards!) – but when the kids were little, I’d take a picture as each child put their first ornament on the tree and then take a picture of all four of them gazing with wonder at the lit, decorated tree.  It’s evolved even more – now my husband puts the tree up, he and the youngest daughter put the lights on & everyone haves at it putting the ornaments on while I just watch.  I get to put on the garland – sometimes strands of beads, other times I “throw” the tinsel, and the last couple years it has been ribbons.  But I undecorate it so I can put all the ornaments back into their rightful places.
  • Birthdays – it was “your” day.  Mom would make me a devil’s food cake with homemade chocolate icing and I got to lick the bowl afterwards.  Sometimes there were friends and other times it was just family (having a birthday right by Thanksgiving can sometimes cause problems).  I usually picked my favorite meal and we had the birthday song, blowing out the candles, and opening gifts.  How it evolved – sometimes I make the cake and sometimes I buy it.  It’s still the child’s “day” and is special.  They request what they want for dinner and the type of cake. 
  • Weddings – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.  Not evolved – still the same!
  • Easter – getting dressed up in a little more than Sunday best with new clothes, new patent leather shoes with a new hat and gloves and an Easter Basket on the end of the bed when I woke up.  How it evolved – the Easter Bunny leaves the baskets on the kitchen table.  New clothes and still attending Easter services (no hat or gloves though!).  A big dinner at mid-day (which is one of the few Sundays I even cook – see below!)
  • Sunday Dinner – my mother never fixed a regular evening meal on Sundays.  As a kid, she always fixed a big lunch but dinner – you were on your own.  That was sort of nice – ice cream, a big bowl of popcorn, peanut butter on a spoon right of the jar (see “food” traditions below), a bowl of cereal, etc.  How it evolved – Mom still doesn’t fix an evening meal on Sundays and neither do I!
  • Food Traditions – my dad is the one we “blame” for most of these.  Pepper on cottage cheese; chocolate cake (no other flavor) in a bowl of milk; peanut butter on a spoon; fried baloney; tobasco sauce on everything (my sister does that but I don’t!); sardines; slim jims, beef sticks or hot sausages (the kind you find at bars!); steak once a week (yeah, I don’t get that as often anymore!); pepper on everything; bleu cheese or roquefort salad dressing.andy
  • Taking pictures of other people taking pictures!  (See Unusual Photos – that I posted back on June 23, 2008)
  • Singing a very long and convoluted version of “I Found a Peanut” when we go on vacation as well as “100 Bottles of Beer”.
  • Going through all the photo albums at my mom’s when we are visiting – each time we are there, all the albums come out.  I was even able to show my sister some photo albums she hadn’t seen before!
  • When all four of the kids are home we watch two or three of their musical videos taken when they were all in church musicals years ago.

So what have you learned from your ancestors?  Please share your family’s traditions – either in the comments section or on your own blog.  Please provide me the link so I can send others to read your post!

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This time of year families migrate back together from either distant areas of the country or through forgiveness and hope for the coming year.  There are many who spend Thanksgiving alone either by choice or circumstance.  With our technology even those who are alone or too far away from loved ones, can now spend a portion of their holiday feeling not so out of touch.  You can call long distance without worrying about the extra charges – thanks to “all-in-one” phone service or cell phones with unlimited long distance built into the cost of your monthly bill.  You can talk via the computer and web-cam so Grandma and Grandpa can actually see the grandchildren telling them Happy Thanksgiving.  Or spend time instant messaging one another before the Turkey or during the game.

Abraham Lincoln was one smart man to enact legislation making Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 while the Civil War was raging.  He proclaimed the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  And for 145 years we have done just that.  Thanks, Mr. President.

From my earliest memories, there has always been family around at Thanksgiving.  As a young girl, we’d spend the holiday at our home with grandparents and in-laws swooping in, eating, enjoying company and staying all day.  As an adult I continued the Thanksgiving Turkey and Dressing tradition with my own children.  At times we would travel to Missouri to spend the holiday at my in-laws or they would travel to our home in Texas.

As the children grew older and became close with other people, their friends would eat at least one of the Thanksgiving meals at our home.  We’ve invited families who needed a change of scenery to our house to celebrate and give thanks with us.  Ours is always a bountiful day full of family, food, noise, and (of course) the Cowboy game!

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This year we have all four of our adult children home (two who live here, one who lives close by and one who traveled in from out of state), our three grandsons will be here, our son-in-law, and a possible new addition to the family.  We’ll have turkey and all the trimmings along with four different pies and plenty of wine and spirits.  And of course we’ll be watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Dog Show and that at 3:30 p.m. Central Time, we’ll have the Cowboy/Seahawk game playing.

This year has brought me in touch with distant cousins including:

  • My great-aunt Rachel (Blazer) Given’s great-granddaughter
  • The granddaughter of Chase Noonan
  • House family cousins
  • Risley cousins (Julie & Becky!)
  • Stern family cousins

Through the newly found family members, I’ve also learned a bit more and was able to share what I’ve learned with them.  My experience has taught me that even though I enjoy the research and new information genealogy brings, I also need to focus on the family that is still providing history and stories for future generations.  Blink and it might be too late.

May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving and time with loved ones!

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At our first “Cousins” reunion in the summer of 2002, we all spread out in the garage, the kitchen area and the dining area to eat.  At the dining table there was a chair placed at the head/corner of the table with an empty place setting.  I assumed it was set there in case someone else chose to eat at that table.  I asked, “Who’s sitting there?”  My cousins told me that was an empty chair in honor of our grandmother, Vesta (Wilt) Johnson.  So the empty chair became “Nana’s chair”.

On the rare or yearly ocassions that we are together for a pot luck picnic meal, there is an empty chair left at one of the tables.  Sometimes there are two – the other in honor of our grandfather, Glen R. Johnson.

I am very thankful that I was able to spend over 20 years of my life living close to my maternal grandparents and getting to know them as more than our matriarch and patriarch.  There isn’t a gathering where we do not tell stories about them or talk about some of the food that was cooked, who has Granddad’s ears or mannerisms, and how Nana made each one of us feel like we were her only grandchild.  They truly were two very special people who shared a great love far and beyond anything those of us who are their descendents could ever imagine or hope for in our own lives.

Photo: Glen and Vesta Johnson, 1967.  Original in possession of Wendy Littrell (address for private use).

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