Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Traditions - Making the Most of Family History

                                                     Christmas 1981

I am now in the mood for Christmas, the Holidays or whatever you want to call it. This is the time of year to light up the house as we enter the darkest month of the year. With the lights put up outside our homes to welcome the guests who enter into a comfortable, warm home with delightful displays of our family traditions. In our family we have several important traditions and many of them have been passed down from mother to daughter. In my collection in ten tubs of holiday decorations, I have items from both of my grandmothers and several things that my mother gave to me.

My mother for a time in her life was into painting. She produced holiday wood pieces that include a pumpkin/pilgrim board with one on each side, a giant snowman (I collect snowman), Rudolph the red nose reindeer on a sleigh, a set of reindeer, a Norwegian Tree with all of our immediate family names on it, cookie jar covers, and scenic paintings. In her own collection she has about sixty-five ceramic houses or buildings she painted, that reflect scenic America. On several of them will be found family names. It is intriguing to visit her home at Christmas and enjoy this display. She has other decorations as well; totaling over forty-five boxes or tubs. Her keepsakes reflect the memories of our family at this special time of year.

In my childhood home we had a variety of trees, including tinsel trees with rainbow light effects, flocked trees of varying colors (some lasted to Valentines Day with appropriate decorations), and some live trees. For the first few years in our home we had live trees, until I finally realized how allergic I am to them. Now we have an easy to assemble pre-lighted tree.

The Christmas tree ornaments are another favorite tradition for us. On our trees you will not find a fancy, well-coordinated display. What we put on the tree is a collection of ornaments that were given to us over the years. As my children have grown and begun families of their own I have passed on a few of their individual ornaments. This year I did personal picture ornaments for each of my daughters and their families, making each of them a set of four. I plan to do a set of them for those of us still at home for our tree. This great idea came from a fellow genealogist on facebook.

I do an annual family Christmas newsletter to share with relatives and close friends. It is a recap of what has taken place for us and our six children. This is added to a family album with others written over the years. We take lots of pictures and record some of our activities. These will become important parts of our family history. One tradition that has been carried on is taking pictures of each person with their Christmas stockings and unwrapped presents that they received.

Another special tradition for me is to attend some type of musical performance. One year we went to the Nutcracker. Last year we attended a concert put on by a well-known performer, playing with a group and using several instruments. This year I have been invited to a concert at one of the local colleges. My genealogy friend's son is performing and it should be very nice. Over the years I have attended such concerts at our local schools and they always thrill me with the beautiful presentations of culturally significant songs.

This year will be the second year of a tradition established by our local church, presenting Joy to the World a community celebration, a beautiful indoor display of hundreds of nativity scenes from around the world on Dec. 8-10 from 1-8pm and Dec. 11 from 4:30-8pm. There is no charge and everyone is welcome. There will be activities for children, special presentations by local performers, holiday video presentations and a live nativity. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 8331 SE Cason Road, Gladstone, OR. For more information go to

Now, get out your calendar and schedule some events that can become traditions for your family. Spending time together and with family, neighbors, friends and those without family support, is by far the best gift any of us can ever give. I would love to hear about some of your traditions.

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