Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2010 Has Arrived!

Wishing you a happy, healthy, safe, sane, prosperous (with genealogy as well as financially) and WONDERFUL New Year!

Reflections for Change

Bloggers are reflecting on this past year, both with their accomplishments and with resolutions for the new year.

I too have a couple of reflections, maybe a bit different from the norm. I am going to call them my eye openers. Things I am a bit disappointed with actually.

I remember many years ago, my mother making a comment after looking at some of my vacation pictures. This was pre-genealogy time. She asked where the pictures were that I was in. At the time I didn't think much of it, but realized most of my pictures were taken of scenery probably taken on a motorcycle trip.

Fast forward to these past Holidays. I reminisced at one point about my father taking videos at all of our monumental affairs. He has always been so diligent about this. I wondered when the last time was I took videos and realized it was probably when my children were playing softball, many moons ago. Realizing my father will unfortunately not be with us forever I wondered who would take over this task. I have a video camera, so it would probably be me. Good intentions were set to pull out this camera and practice this holiday season.

Well, it didn't happen. When I reflect back now, it is no wonder it didn't happen. I have so much to do and take care of already. I have broken down and realized I can not do everything. Amazing, but true. My mother didn't do everything either, my father did the videos.

My husband isn't fond of taking pictures or using the camera, unless I specifically ask him. I am trying to think what job I could give him during the day so I can take some videos and more pictures. Although, that may not be the answer either, as I still would not in very many pictures.

Besides the videos, I noticed the pictures I took were mostly of the grandchildren. Now, I am not complaining about that by any means, however, why did I not have more photos of my father? Thank goodness I have taken several of him throughout the year.

Notations then, are:

1.Make sure someone takes pictures of me once in awhile.
2.Take video as often; they are so wonderful later in years, just like photos. Thanks, Dad
3.Take more pictures of the matriarchs of the family, how long will they be with us?

These are not New Years Resolutions, they are simply things I will do!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Wish for 2010

Carnival of Genealogy, 87th Edition

The topic for this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: New Year's Resolutions! The following post is written as my contribution to this COG event which will be hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.

How many of us make New Year's Resolutions every year? I have to admit I have been one of those resolution makers over the years. When I look back I have found that I start out gung ho and eventually peter out.

During the past year I noticed some diligent genea-bloggers checking on their New Year Resolutions for 2009 during the year. When I read those posts, I didn't even want to look at my resolutions for 2009. Months had passed and I hadn't been focused on them.

This year is almost over and a new decade and a New Year is almost here. I have made the conscious decision not to make resolutions for any aspect of my life. Sure there are many things I would like to accomplish, but why put a title to it? Life sometimes gets in the way of things we wish to do or accomplish, and that isn't always a bad thing. My life now is all about no stress, do what I can when I can and enjoy what I do!

I finally got brave and looked at what my resolutions were for last year, cringing as I worked my way to the page. Low and behold, I could have looked at this months ago when I was afraid to! It seems as if I didn't make any resolutions last year either, except to take better care of myself. Well, I can say I have done that. I quit smoking and quit my job so the stress level and carcinogens have been deleted from those things! There is always room for improvement though and this is an ongoing part of my life now.

Genealogy wise there are things I always want to improve on, participate in and strive for. This year there were some added bonuses for me, attending the fabulous Jamboree event which was such great fun and helping an ill woman find her father, whom she thought was deceased. Neither of these things would have even made a resolution list. Signing up for Casefile Clues, making contact with cousins I never knew existed and meeting so many great genealogists and bloggers would never have been on my resolution list either.

Items that may have been on my list, such as scanning all photographs, making sure everything I have is cited correctly, getting certain certificates or breaking down a brick wall are all things that are ongoing for me. They will never stop. There will always be new information to add to my database along with citing those sources. I will always want more documents, be it certificates, articles, maps, pictures you name it. I will always have paperwork to file, something new to learn, travel I would like to do, brick walls to break along with research to be done.

For me, my wish is to continue doing what I am doing, improving when I can and learning along the way. I hope to continue to help whom ever I can and "pay back" as often as possible. Yes, I have goals and ambitions and drives, but whatever doesn't happen this year, will happen when it is suppose to, no stress. When accomplishments are made, you will know, I am sure.


Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous and genealogically rewarding year!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Kisses For You!

Wishing you a very special Christmas that you will remember forever. Enjoy your families, be happy, stay healthy and by gosh, go ahead and eat to much!

Hope all of your Christmas dreams come true.

Thank you for being my blogging friend,
I send bunches of Christmas Kisses to YOU!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 24 ~ Christmas Eve

Every year that I can remember growing up we spent Christmas Eve with my maternal grandfather. At least the evenings were spent there. But, once I was on my own in the world there were many different places I have spent Christmas Eve.

When my husband and I were first married we spent the evening with some close friends of his. They did their Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve. I used to feel like we were intruding, but the family always made us feel so welcome.

One year my husband's nephew started having his family Christmas on Christmas Eve and invited all of the family. We would bring a dish to share and they always supplied the meat and many other fixings. A white elephant exchange was great fun we shared and we watched as that part of the family opened their gifts. Eventually, those gatherings stopped though.

As my children got older, I liked to leave that particular evening free for my children to do with as they please. They had many friends they liked to visit and some of those friends they exchanged gifts with. Their parents were also a part of my children's lives, so it was great they could visit with them also.

When I worked and the girls went elsewhere, it gave me a chance to finish up on wrapping and setting the table for Christmas dinner. I could also prepare food and clean the house for the next day. As time passed I noticed the girls weren't gone all night visiting anymore. They suddenly became more of a help to me. Because they could help me, we had more free time and might go look at neighborhood Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. My one daughter and her dad would go to midnight mass, and most years I would be in bed or still working around the house at that time. A couple of years I went to mass with them, but it must have been when Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday or Sunday and I had the whole day to do my preparations.

Now, I have grandchildren and a daughter who lives in Tennessee. When the daughter from afar comes in, the other daughter and her family are here spending time with her and us. We have dinner and spend the evening together. It is a special family affair and we love it!

May you all have a wonderful Christmas Eve! Thank you to Geneabloggers for promoting the Advent Calendar, it has been great fun and I hope you have enjoyed the posts!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Bell graphic from here ~Christmas Graphics Plus

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 23 ~ Christmas Sweetheart Memories

Other than receiving many jewelry items over the years my fondest memories come from my husband. The most favorite of all is when he talks about how my family treated him and his daughter when they attended their first Christmas with my family. At the time it was a real new relationship. He felt uncomfortable about coming to my parents for the Holiday, but he found they were treated like they were always part of our family, gifts and all.

My husband still talks about that first Christmas together and is still amazed by it. I am not sure he ever spent a Christmas like that before. My most special memory is his joy of finding out what a real Christmas was like, with family, accepting those who were unknown and sharing the gifts of love and laughter and even presents. Always if anyone needs or doesn't have a place to go on Thanksgiving or Christmas, they have been welcome at my mother's and my home. If family has friends they would like to bring to join in on the festivities, they are welcome to do so. Never, should anyone be alone, and never should anyone be a stranger.

To know the joy still exists in my husbands mind is the best gift I could ever have received. He has already spoken of that first year this year. Christmas changed so much for him after we met. I know he loves that the family would never miss Christmas if they could help it and it is so special for me to know how much my family wants to be together. I am truly blessed.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Clipart chosen from here

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 22 ~ Christmas and Deceased Relatives

This post will be short and sweet. In my home growing up, we never talked much about the deceased. Of course I was very fortunate to have so many grandparents alive during my growing up years. I, unlike most, had 5 sets of grandparents and that doesn't include great-grandparents.

Two great grandparents were alive as I grew up that I can remember well. When they passed away, they were spoken of occasionally, mostly when we remembered something special about that person. Holidays for us were to have good times and the deceased were never brought up during that time.

It is interesting how some things stay the same in families through time. My sisters and I were "protected" from funerals. We never heard about them or went to them, until we were much older. Those that have passed are have not been talked about during Christmas Holidays. I will change that this year. I will start a conversation remembering things my mother used to do at Christmas. And, with any luck, I will visit her grave for the first time ever during a Christmas season.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 21 ~ Christmas Music

Much of the music I listened to growing up during Christmas time were tunes sung by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and that era of entertainers.

One year for Christmas I received an album of Elvis's and I thought I was hot stuff. I think I listened to that album until I couldn't play it any longer. Was it Christmas music? No, but I had to throw this in!

I enjoyed listening to all of the traditional songs while growing up. My favorite song was White Christmas. Growing up listening to music during the holidays has always put me "in the mood." I especially love listening to Christmas music when I am cleaning or wrapping gifts.

The song I remember most that came out that my family had so much fun with was, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer." We all made fun of the song and even my grandma laughed like crazy when she heard it. I think we all walked around with that song in our heads for a long long time.

Burl Ives, Christmas shows and specials on TV all brought more tunes into our house. I do miss having little ones in our home to watch those programs. I just don't watch TV much, although I have caught a few of the Hallmark Christmas specials this year.

Christmas morning when we open our gifts there is Christmas music playing, it is tradition. That along with "the fire" on the TV channel. This makes it seems like it is really cold outside; hence Christmas time.

My favorite song this year? Holly Jolly Christmas, you can listen here! And by all means, make sure you all have a Holly Jolly Christmas this year! Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 20 ~ Religious Services

My family didn't grow up very religious. My extent of church going amounted to Vacation Bible School once a year. I always hated going. I felt so out of place and behind, not understanding at being at an equal level with my peers regarding religion.

Needless to say, I never attended any religious services growing up. I am of the Luthern denomination, and am married to a Catholic. I have attended a couple of midnight masses with my husband. They are beautiful, and the church is always packed. He attends them every year and goes to church every Sunday and prays for me. I need all the help I can get!

I generally choose not to go to the services because I am always so tired and have so much to get ready for on Christmas day as everyone comes to our house for gifts, breakfast and then dinner. Of course I have always been a working girl and time was limited. You never know, I just may start attending Christmas Eve's midnight mass again now that I am a retired woman!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Clipart from

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 19 ~ Christmas Shopping

Everyone handles Christmas shopping differently, don't they? I personally hate to shop, except for Christmas time. I love buying for others, when I have the time. My problem is I don't know when to stop. I feel I want to buy everyone everything. When I get close to being done, I always find more I HAVE to buy for and end up wearing myself out and becoming so grateful when it is finally over.

My mother liked to shop, I think. She seemed to shop at least once a week. I am sure she started early with her shopping and finished early. As my grandmother aged, my mother used to do her Christmas shopping also. By the time all of my siblings were married and children were born, the family had grown to much for my mother. She opted for us to draw names among the adults, and buy for the children. I was surprised when that came about and really didn't understand it at all. But that became our program, and shopping became much easier.

Aren't the men the ones who typically do their shopping the day before Christmas? They generally don't have so many gifts to buy so they can get away with it. Not so sure they always get the best gifts though. None of the men in my family can be placed in that category, waiting to shop until Christmas Eve. My husband goes shopping one day, generally a couple weeks before Christmas, then comes home and announces he is all done Christmas shopping. He just can't understand what takes me so long to get my shopping done!

I used to make a lot of my Christmas gifts. Those were the days gifts needed to be cheaper, plus I had more time to work on projects. I would start making them in August, but still wouldn't finish my shopping until almost Christmas Eve. This year has been the latest start I have ever had with my shopping. Traveling in November delayed this years beginning to my Holiday shopping, but the trip was definitely worth it.

I said I was going to cut back this year, I have been saying this now for about 5 years, but I can't see where this has happened. It is kinda like taking from Peter to pay Paul. Don't buy for one person anymore, but then buy more for someone else. I can't win! I LOVE Christmas and I love spoiling my family once a year. This is probably why I can't ever be done shopping early, I keep going until I run out of time. (Is this what the Eveready rabbit does? He just keeps on going and going...)

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Clipart from

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 18 ~ Christmas Stockings

I never had a Christmas stocking while growing up. None of our family did. It wasn't part of our traditions. I wonder if my mother ever had Christmas stockings growing up? Times could have been tough and she may have grown up without them also.

When I became pregnant I made the decision I wanted to have Christmas stockings. My in-laws at the time all had stockings, so I suppose that is where the desire came from. I made my daughter hers and as a matter of fact I made mine and her father's also.

Her stocking consisted of two small children, a boy and a girl, by the Christmas tree, stairs off to the side, with a puppy on the scene and presents all around. This stocking was made of felt and sequins and is the same stocking she has today at our home. She refuses to have anything different.

Our other daughter has a home made stocking also, it is a punch embroidery. The one I made for her is of a large snowman. My husband's and mine are also made by me. Upon reflecting on these stockings, it has come to my attention that I have never taken any photos of any of them. It has no become a must on my to do list!

Our son-in-law joined our family a few years back and now the prince and princess (my grandchildren) have come along also. Life has become much more hectic these days and so these three stockings were not made by me. They were bought, but their names are embroidered on them.

I see how long the stockings I have made have lasted, it has been a good thirty years for a couple of them anyway. I am going to made a conscious effort to make my son-in-law, the prince and princess their own hand made stockings they can have forever. That first one I made has so much meaning for my daughter, when she said she wouldn't have any other one, I knew it meant a lot. These three deserve the same feelings as the rest of us.

First I wanted stockings, and now I love the tradition so much, I believe they should all be hand made! I hope the family growth slows down a bit so I can catch up!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 17 ~ Grab Bag ~ Movies

Movies, so are you thinking I am talking about the movie theater? That could be a possibility, and not a bad one at that. This time though I am talking about 8mm movies. Do you remember those?

As long as I can remember my father has been ever so faithful in taking movies at Christmas. Seeing these movies is always such a treat as we don't get to see them often. The problem now is that time has moved on. As with other electronics devices, movie cameras are not what they use to be. My father took movies using 8mm film.

We used to watch those movies of Christmases past on a pull down screen that was on a stand. Sometimes we would watch these movies on a nice white wall. No matter how we watched them, they were always great. Seeing family members that are no longer with us, and revving up those memories of the past can be fun and emotional.

My father, bless his heart, has been doing something most wonderful for his daughters for the past few years. He has been transferring the 8mm movies he has taken from film to DVD's. A couple of years ago he had a local company transfer some of the movies for him. What he had transferred, he had made three times, one for each of his girls for Christmas presents. Such a wonderful surprise that was! We can reminisce all we want, whenever we want. This was a most wonderful gift!

Dad, realizing he had close to a half century worth of movies he had taken (some were actually video tape) decided to purchase a machine to make the transfers himself. Last Christmas each of us again received more DVD'S of my fathers movies. This time was even more special as he had to make each of them himself.

I will never forget Christmases growing up, they have all been filmed. I am a camera freak, but never have been much for using the video camera. Unfortunately, my own personal family Christmases as an adult have not been made into movies, at least not the gift giving part. If dad was around the rest of the day, you can bet it is on film though. Gift exchanges and Santa's surprises are now left to still photos in my house. that there are grandchildren, I may have to rethink this approach. I can't imagine not being able to view movies of them years from now. And their parents would miss so much also, let alone my grandchildren by the time they are adults. A new tradition to start this year? I wonder if my video camera is totally out of date...

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blog Caroling Time!

It's time for blog caroling! I love the fact that I am at home in my jammies, slippers, and Santa hat (no makeup) sipping my hot toddie (mmmmmm) and singing to the world! The best part is that no one can tell how out of tune I am!

The event is "FOOTNOTEMAVEN'S TRADITION OF BLOG CAROLING!" She has challenged us GeneaBloggers to blog our favorite Christmas Carol. I have to admit that this isn't my favorite Christmas Carol, but for several reasons, it keeps popping up this year to me, so I have been practicing for you for about a week, maybe by now I will even be in tune! Come on, sing along!

Holly Jolly Christmas ~ written by Johnny Marks

Have a holly jolly Christmas
It's the best time of the year
I don't know if there'll be snow
But have a cup of cheer

Have a holly jolly Christmas
And when you walk down the street
Say hello to friends you know
and everyone you meet

Oh, the mistletoe hung where you can see
Somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me

Have a holly jolly Christmas
And in case you didn't here,
Oh, by golly have a holly jolly Christmas this year!

Have a holly jolly Christmas
It's the best time of the year

Have a holly jolly Christmas
And when you walk down the street,
Say hello to friends you know
and everyone you meet.

Oh, the mistletoe hung where you can see
Somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me!

Have a holly jolly Christmas
And in case you didn't here,
Oh, by golly have a holly jolly Christmas this year!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Advent Calendar Day 16 ~ Christmas at School

I was very shy when I attended school. You wouldn't have caught me in a play of any kind. I would have made myself ill just at the thought of participating! I do not have recollections of anything special during school time for the holidays. We may have had a classroom party when I was in elementary school, but beyond that there wasn't anything special that I can remember.

My grandfather was in a play when he was in high school, but I am almost positive it wasn't a Christmas play, the picture I own doesn't portray a holiday scene at all. Whose to say that at some point and time he wasn't in a Christmas play or pageant?

My grandfather was quite a character and I can totally vision him participating in a play. His son was no different, in fact he may have been even more of a character. I spent quite a bit of time looking for the photo of my father who played a wise man in a school Christmas play. I was very disappointed when I couldn't find it.

Finally, I realized it wasn't a picture, it was a newspaper photo, so it would be filed a little differently. Sure enough I found it that way. I wanted to add it to this post in the worst way, but I am not comfortable doing so without asking his permission first. Unfortunately, time ran out before I could speak to him.

The students in the photo were re-enacting the birth of Christ. The photo consists of the three Wise Men, Joseph, Mary and an angel. The children that portrayed each of these individuals were listed by name. The date it was in the newspaper was Wednesday December 18, 1946. It is a great photo and I am proud to own a copy of the newspaper clipping. Hopefully one day I will be able to share it with you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 15 ~ The Holiday Happenings



During the months of December and January there are many birthdays. I don't believe these people get a fair shake. Unless as a child their parents were smart and kind enough to give them a party or birthday gathering at another time of year.

I know a couple people whose birthday's are on Christmas Day. One will celebrate her birthday in the spring, which I think is awesome as she will celebrate her 3rd birthday. Another is an adult and I have no idea how this birthday will be celebrated.

I also know someone whose birthday is New Years Eve, and one whose birthday is 6 days prior to Christmas. These two people are adults now. How were their birthday's celebrated when they were children? And now? Now, I believe they celebrate on their actual birthday, as children I am not sure if they had other special dates for when they celebrated.

Isn't it more difficult to buy gifts for people like this, especially when you buy Christmas gifts for them also? Yes, it can be. I have done this for several years, so I know. It would be so much nicer to buy for them in June, with a seasonal change for fun!

Alas, that is not how life works. I have had many friends with birthdays in Dec. and even a few relatives too. January is the same. I currently have a few early January birthday's I buy for.

I have an ancestor whose birthday was on December 23. I would love to say
Happy Birthday to my great grandmother Marta Brita Lundberg! Born in Sweden in 1883 I never had the opportunity to meet her. Nor do I know how she celebrated her birthday, or when. She made a couple trips to the United States, but they were not around her birthday.

Great Grandma Marta, you left us in 1925, but you are not forgotten! I am here now to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you! Had you been alive you would be 126 years old this year. Instead you passed away at the very young age of forty two. I hope you had some wonderful birthday's when you were on this planet with us. If nothing else, I hope you know I am here thinking of you and wishing you a Happy Birthday when I couldn't before.

I would like to tell all people who have birthday's and or anniversary's in December and January, Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! You are all wonderful, I wish you a great day on your special day!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 14 ~ Fruitcake - Friend or Foe?

Fruitcake? It isn't a friend of mine, nor my family. I remember buying a fruitcake or two for gifts years ago, but only for people who really liked them. Fruitcake rates about the same as mince meat pie in my books. Mincemeat pie has a name that doesn't even sound appealing. At least fruitcake can sound half way appealing.

I believe it is the dried fruit that turns me off the most, I know it can't be the brandy or rum that turns me away. After all who likes currants, and what are they anyway? Figs and Prunes? They should only be given for medicinal purposes. And tell me, why would you combine these awful dried up fruit pieces with candied fruit? Now we have shriveled up dried fruit mixed with fruit that has been dipped in concentrated corn syrup. Now take a ton of alcohol over a long period of time and make sure all that the cake and fruit gets drenched in it. Doesn't even sound appealing at this point. Ok, so there are nuts in it also, I can handle the nuts, and maybe the cake might be ok if all the fruit was taken out, but who tastes the cake anyway? There is to much fruit in it!

There seems to be many different recipes to make fruitcake. I never realized this. I thought it was one way only, dried fruit, candied fruit, nuts and alcohol. You mean there really is more than one way to make it? One recipe I found calls for "sultanas" and "marzipan." Heaven only knows what those are! Have you heard of a "Citronless Fruitcake?" How about a "Drunk Fruitcake?" I think the person got drunk making his cake!

I picture fruitcake making a great white elephant gift. Thank goodness no one in my family likes this stuff. It is one of those things I hope to never buy again.

Fruitcake is a favorite and a Holiday Tradition for many. Please just give me fudge instead.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 13 ~ Holiday Travel

My mother and grandma (McGuire) Helman.

My family stayed home for Christmas. My family lived in the area so there never was a need to travel. However there was a special trip I remember so very well...

I didn't make the trip, but my grandmother, Lois Helman did. In the early 1980's my ex and I decided to surprise my father and have his mother flown here for the Christmas Holidays. I never remembered spending a Christmas with her. We bought her the plane ticket and she was thrilled and very willing to keep the secret from her son.

She flew in a few days before Christmas from Arizona and spent time with us. It was so wonderful to have her in my home, very special indeed. I had never had a family member stay with us before, except for maybe my youngest sister. Grandma enjoyed the time she could spend with her great granddaughter and me. We had been pen pals over the years and were close.

Christmas day came and we headed to my parents home in the very early afternoon. When we arrived grandma walked in with us. I will never forget the look, especially on my mother's face when she saw her. My mother's hands went to her face and her mouth fell open in true surprise. My dad got that great big beautiful smile on his face, you know the kind that says he was so very pleased and but had to act macho about it.

Fortunately Grandma was able to stay a few days past Christmas to visit with mom and dad and other family members before returning home. She spent the whole visit staying with us, and I couldn't have been happier.

I never understood why she had never come out to our house for Christmas before, I could only imagine. I figure my personal thoughts on this are probably correct. Having her that one Christmas was probably as much a gift for me as it was for my dad. It was a wonderful time I will never forget.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 12 ~ Charitable/Volunteer Work

As a family we never volunteered to work for a charity. My husband and I have however done charity work through the Harley Davidson Chapter we belong to. Our chapter supports a local home for battered women and children.

Christmas time is when our support is really shown. In fact, you could say this is why I joined the chapter to begin with. You see, about ten years ago I heard about a toy run the chapter was sponsoring. Friends of ours belonged to the chapter and shared the information with us. When I heard the support the chapter gave for the needy, I was sold. My husband had been wanting a Harley. I gave him the down payment for the bike at Christmas, I wanted us to join the chapter.

We joined the chapter and are still members. I have been an elected officer and an appointed officer in the chapter and my husband has been a road captain (one who leads rides). Over the years the way we support the battered womans and children's center has been fairly consistent, although presentations have changed.

In the beginning we road the bikes to the complex where they lived, headed by Santa and his "sleigh" of toys. The women and children came out the complex and we handed them each wrapped gifts. (We always retrieved a list of names, ages and sex of the children that were staying there ahead of time, along with how many mothers there were) We watched them open their gifts and the joy it brought to their faces. When all was said and done, a check was presented to the organization, usually in the amount of a few thousand dollars. Our donations have helped fund necessities for those who found themselves in need of their services.

Over the years privacy and security have changed things a bit and the families meet the chapter members at a local pizza parlor where each mother and her children are presented with gift cards to spend as they please. The organization is then presented with our donation check. The families are treated to a pizza lunch on the chapter.

The needs of various people are wide and of many levels. Charity or volunteer work of any type for anyone needy is always in demand, any time of the year. My motto this holiday season, (and added to my Christmas letters in fact) is an offering to think about "giving back" or "paying it forward." As many of you may know, my holiday gift has been given to me already. Making a connection for a very ill woman with her father is the best gift I could have ever received. She thought he was deceased and hadn't seen or spoken with him since she was a toddler, over 30 some odd years. I can not begin to tell you the benefits I have received from this. So go ahead, do what you can for someone, you will reap the benefits, trust me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 11 ~ Other Traditions

I have no idea what traditions were at Christmas for any of my grandparents or great grandparents. I do know there were two things that were traditions in my parents home on Christmas. The first one was that we didn't get to open out presents until 1:00pm on Christmas Day.

I suppose growing up and being used to that wasn't as bad as others may think, that was just the way my mother did it. She would get up in the morning, start the turkey (we always had turkey) and do some cooking. My mother's mother and her husband came to our house for Christmas Day, and they came at one o'clock.

Looking back on this, I think it is amazing I didn't fuss about it as I can't imagine ever having my children wait until that time to open their gifts. My children put out milk and cookies on Christmas Eve, I don't know if that was ever done in my parents home, I can't remember it if it was.

The other tradition on Christmas Day was that we always had to dress up. In fact we had to dress up on Christmas Eve to go to my other grandparents home also. My sisters and I had to wear a dress and nice shoes. It all seems so formal to me now, and actually it was.

These traditions have sure changed with my husband and children. We try to have everyone over between 8-9am. We put on Christmas music, a fire, and everyone has coffee and or hot chocolate, in our jammies. (You see a picture of my grandson in his jammies above) We open our stockings and then our gifts. I started another tradition upon having my own family. Christmas stockings were added (my mother never did stockings) and I wrap each item that goes in them! I know that sounds kinda strange, but I remember myself as a child always wanting to open more and more. Why not start with opening our stocking stuffers? Left over pieces of wrapping paper usually worked well, it was just another time consuming thing I started. Is now is also a tradition to have a family breakfast together after opening our gifts.

This year, my grandson is at an age where he should be home on Christmas morning, I believe it is time we go to their home for our morning ritual. Kids should be able to be home with their newly unwrapped toys.

Several years ago one of my daughters missed a Christmas and she said she will never miss another one. We weren't sure if she would be able to make it home this year, but son of a gun, the plane tickets are bought and she is coming.

I am happy some of my mother's traditions have changed and new ones have started. It looks as if my children are happy with our traditions as they won't miss it! I wonder what traditions my children will change or start over time?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 10 ~ Christmas Gifts

The most distant memories I have were those spent Christmas Eve with my grandparents and aunt and eventually her family. My grandpa Harding was the sweetest ever. He was always so happy and made us feel special and so very comfortable around him. He was the one who decorated the Christmas tree for many years, until they finally put it, decorations and all in a spare bedroom, covered with a sheet waiting for the following year. My grandfather played Santa and handed out the gifts. He truly enjoyed watching us open each gift as if he had gone out and bought it himself. I do believe though that my grandma did the shopping.She did the shopping, he wrapped.

Several years ago my aunt gave me a gift I treasure so much. This gift was given to me when I was first learning genealogy, about 10 years ago. At the time I was interested, but only because I found family information online by accident. I played a bit to try to find more information, which I did, but eventually I became to busy and didn't have a clue what to do next. I had no idea what to do with the new found information either, but I kept it. Because I was "involved" and excited over the information I found, my aunt gave me this gift.

It was a package of a "12 suzi powell fashion bows" with one of the bows missing. I thought this was a strange gift. What made it special said my aunt, was that my grandfather had written on the back. Oh, okay! Hum, still a little strange I thought.

Fast forward to this day in time. I have pulled the package out and it is now in from of me. I just took a few pictures, actually these are the first pictures I have even taken of this package. The memories, my mind going back in time, just seeing this package now, makes my eyes well up with tears.

As for the back of the package (which was the important section) my recollection of what he had written was nil. Now, looking at it again for the first time in years, I find it is a list of what my grandparents bought for us for Christmas that year. Almost everything is crossed out. Those items crossed out seemed to be items grandpa had wrapped already.

This list shows I received a large yarn set, block puzzle, Tic Tac Toe, transistor phone, and a nightgown (which wasn't wrapped yet).

The next youngest sister (I am the eldest) received sports checkers, art fabric(not wrapped), a pants suit and nightgown (not wrapped).

My youngest sister shows she received a small yarn set, a button (?) puzzle(not wrapped), some kind of a pull game, and a nightgown (not wrapped).

My parents received a blanket.

My nephew a sleeper, turtleneck shirt, and coveralls.

My aunt and uncle received glasses and coasters.

This list had to be made in 1970 or 1971. We are looking at this as being about 38 or 39 years old now.

Now I get it! Back when this was given to me, I didn't "get it." Today is a whole different story. How I miss my grandparents and the times we shared on Christmas Eve and other Holidays.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts.

Written for Smile for the Camera, 19th edition and Advent Calendar, Genea-Bloggers

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 9 ~ Grab Bag, Holiday Talents

The photo to the right displays a miniature scene I made years ago. It hasn't been unpacked for several Christmases. I developed the room you see in the display here. I started with wallpaper and then building the fireplace and decorating it. I crocheted a blanket to adorn the rocking chair. Toys were added along with lights to the tree (which needs batteries now) and pictures on the wall. As you can see there are also presents and a rug...and it was so much fun to make!

I have spent most all of my life being crafty. I can remember being about 10 years old and teaching myself to crochet. The first item I made was a scarf. I remember making multicolor headbands too. When I was a freshman in high school I took a sewing class and began making my own clothes. In between crocheting and sewing I enjoyed learning other crafts as well.

Eventually, I started making Christmas gifts, had to start them in August. I have made many an afghan throughout the years. I crocheted a fisherman's cable afghan one year for the person's name I drew from work. It was such a hit, I made the same one for several years. Each year people were hoping I would draw their name, because they wanted an afghan also. It so happened that during that time, because everyone wanted me to pull their name, we chose not to announce whose name we drew. As long as we didn't draw our own name, we were good, and no one knew who drew whose name until it was time to do the gift exchange. Somehow, when you are a "crafter", you never seem to keep anything for yourself. Writing this reminded me that my husband always wanted one of those afghans also. He never received one. Maybe a thought for next year?

Besides being crafty for Holiday gifts, I have also made many holiday decorations, ornaments, tree skirts, and even a tablecloth or two. I have done sand painting, scrap booking, crocheting, knitting, tatting, quilting, sewing, embroidery, macrame and who knows what else.

I often wondered over the years where I inherited my crafting talent. My mother certainly wasn't crafty, nor was her mother. I couldn't remember anyone in the family ever being crafty besides me. I sure enjoyed it, and felt the rest of my family was sure missing a lot of pleasure by not making anything. And, I continued on my way throughout the years.

Through my genealogy I finally realized where I inherited some if not all of this interest and talent. My paternal grandmother, Thina Westby quilted. I didn't spend any time with this set grandparents growing up. A gift of one of her quilts was given to me when I was about 13 which promptly went on my bed. Eventually though, probably from being washed and dried so often, the fabrics started ripping and my mother got rid of the quilt. I always wished I could have that quilt back, I loved it so much.

Years later I was able to get my hands on another one of her quilts, the last one she made that was available. I am so pleased to have it. It will never be on my bed or an y other in my home. It will be saved for my grandchildren to enjoy. It is really the only item I have that is homemade from an ancestor. I wish I could have shared some time with my grandmother, being crafty together.

I still love being crafty and haven't allowed myself enough time to thoroughly be satisfied lately. I have several ideas in the back of my head of things I want to make. I plan to spend a lot of time in the upcoming new year doing just that!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I wanted to make this special post, just for Vanessa to tell her ~


Here I was wishing her a congratulatory Merry Christmas on being connected with her father and sister again, and found out it is her birthday! So, she was reunited with her family as a birthday gift!

I wanted you to know that I am praying for you and your health. Remember, as you told me, you now have hope. Please keep that hope, great things do happen! You already can attest to that! Be strong and get lots of rest. May you have the happiest birthday EVER!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Advent Calendar Day 8 ~ Christmas Cookies

Traditionally, Norwegian and Danish baked at least seven different types of cookies before Christmas. It carried over from the 19th century. It seemed that the more types of cookies you baked the wealthier you were. Scandinavian cookie recipes were handed down from generation to generation, but not in my immediate family. There was never cookie making when I was a child growing up. I am starting to feel as though I missed so much as a child. At least I have memories to share of Christmas cookies and baking as an adult, along with a new tradition.

The first time I was really involved in baking Christmas Cookies was about 25 years ago. A friend hosted a Christmas cookie and tea party. The idea was to bake 6 dozen of one kind of cookie. Then we would meet for cookies and tea and exchange a dozen of the cookies we baked with each of the other five people. Suddenly we had 6 dozen different home made cookies!

It was great to have the beautiful cookies for holiday gifting or when company stopped by. What an easy way to get 6 dozen different cookies without all the shopping and mess. We only did this a few years and then somehow we all seemed to go our separate ways. It was fun, I wouldn't mind doing it again.

Last year my daughter and I started the new tradition. Although she is now an adult with two small children, we finally spent a day making Christmas cookies together, just the two of us. It would have been much nicer if my other daughter had been here also, but she was in Tennessee, so she couldn't just pop on over.

We spend the whole day, I believe was about 9 hours, making cookies. I think we made eight or nine different kinds. We bought containers and made gift packages to give away to people we worked with, neighbors and friends. We have set up our baking date this year, it is still a couple of weeks away. We both are looking forward to this day once more!

Last year when we were almost done for the day, my then 2 year old grandson came over and helped us decorate the cookies. A tradition has also started for him. I have the pictures he will be able to share with his children and grandchildren, should he have them. It is never to late to start a new tradition. I seem to have started a few in my time!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Monday, December 7, 2009

SNGF ~ My Second Letter to Santa

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings prompted me to write the first of these two posts. The challenge and my response can be read here. It is highly recommended you read that post before continuing on with this, my follow up letter to Genea-Santa!

Dear Genea-Santa,

I can not begin to tell you how awesome a gift this was from you! The fact that you were able to grant my wish was amazing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Because of you, my good friend Joe Dallman and I were able to crack this case and bring my friend back in touch with her father, Clay Thomas Carlin. We were looking for his final resting place, and instead we found that he is very much alive! In fact he was looking for her also. The phone call between the two happened this afternoon and my friend wrote me this while she was speaking to him.


And, it only gets better. This would be the FIRST time she has ever spoken to her father. What better gift can a person have for Christmas, really? Money can't buy any of this.

To add to the excitement, this afternoon I had a message on my answering machine from the woman I sent the letter to. I tried calling her back a couple of times, but I had the wrong phone number I found out later. Thank goodness she called me back again so we could talk. It was a bit difficult explaining who I was, especially since I found out she WAS my friend's sister. I have not been told how many years it has been since she has seen her sister, but my calculations think it has been at least 14 years. When I let my friend know I had a phone message from this gal and I was going to be talking to her soon, she replied.

"please please give her my number and please get hers I love you cheryl I'm talking to my dad now!!!!"

Then another response from my friend:

"thank you thank you thank you"

For now, this is all I know. I am sure my friend is emotionally drained as it was a very big day for her. When she has the strength, she will follow up with me. I hope if there is a reunion I will have the opportunity to see a picture of her and her dad together, and maybe one of her and her sister at some point also.

So Genea-Santa, my wish has come true and even before Christmas to boot! You sent many people to try to assist me with this, and I thank each and every one of them so much. Thank you to Elizabeth, Randy, Cheryl D., Steve, Carolyn, Nolan, Barbara and most of all, Joe. Well, maybe, most of all you Genea-Santa. If it weren't for you and the letter I needed to write, this may not have come about, at least not this soon. You will have extra cookies this year when you stop by and even some special "nog" if you so choose.

Bless you and thank you again for bringing these family members together."


I think Joe worded it perfectly, how he feels, and I second that emotion! We need to celebrate!

"Feeling good that I helped reunite a daughter with her father after more than 30 years...Who needs material things for the holidays when you can do something like that for someone else?"

Merry Christmas Vanessa to you and your family, from all of us!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!