Thursday, December 12, 2013

An Open Your Presents Early Christmas

That is the statement that my six year old granddaughter made this week. In the past two plus weeks we have been blessed with some amazing gifts and memories. These are not all physical gifts and some are amazingly simple. In between the gifts directly for our family, there have been some gifts given to others in search of their ancestors.

One of our primary gifts was having our youngest daughter and her family come for two weeks, starting the Monday before Thanksgiving. During this time the flu took its powerful course through family members, beginning with her husband and two young sons before they came, for a total of fourteen out of fifteen people. Some fared better than others, but we were able to enjoy most of our planned activities.

Their family was able to stay at our neighbor's home where our oldest son rents a room, so the second day my daughter stayed there while she was sick and we kept the grandsons with us. The room at the Inn was much appreciated. When they took the boys up for bed in the evening this provided some quiet time for us. During this time I worked on a couple of genealogy projects for two friends. These projects provided long sought answers to their research.

The first was in the process of writing a story about her birth mother's family, especially her grandmother and great grandmother. She started the project on her own and then requested some assistance. Using census records and other documents she was able to validate the family history told to her by her step siblings. It is very emotional to watch someone make significant discoveries to achieve answers to questions about a family they are just coming to know. Her added gift is a Civil War Pension File and a Widow's Pension File to order that may answer other substantial questions.

The second project was for someone wanting to find a lost family member. She provided me with some very limited information and within a day we knew where she had gone. First it was determined through the census after she left home, that her mother noted in 1910 that all of her children were still living. With a first name of Missouri, the daughter was listed in the 1900 census at age 29, single and working as a teacher. This offered some great leads to discovering that she moved to Washington State and married there in 1904. She never had children and in the 1930 census her husband was a widower. We went on to discover their place of burial in Spokane, Washington and her parent's place of burial in Missouri. Now she has four pages of notes and a path to further discoveries.

The other gifts to our family included lunch at McDonalds so the children could play, a pizza night with most family members present, a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and time with our entire family, a shopping trip to buy clothing and some simple toys for Christmas presents, a train ride on the Holiday Express and dinner out, church activities, a visit to the local aquarium, our children's dinner out together, picking up some of my mother's belongings, a girls day of sorting her belongings, and a second trip to my mother's while husbands and uncles entertained the children.

The most enjoyable gift is time with each other. It was especially fun for the grandchildren to shop with grandma and the two oldest came back to the house with their own tin of popcorn. They were very gracious about sharing with others, even me. My mother gave each family a popcorn tin and it was fun to carry on this tradition. The Holiday Express was wonderful and it felt like a miracle that we were able to pull it off. The train has six cars and the children were free to move about. They got to see Santa, enjoyed the lights and decorations, they watched the view of many different places we passed, and really experienced what it is like to ride a big train. This was an event my mother really wanted them to go on and I felt we honored her in doing so.

Well, we will all experience this holiday season in our own unique ways. Our family means so much to me and we treasure our time together. There were some stressful moments, but overall it was very pleasant. We are not perfect people, but people who share in the struggles of life and try to look out for each other. Whether I am doing things with my family or doing genealogy research for others I feel that I am blessed with gifts beyond measure. Simple things in this complicated world are the best gifts of all.

Serendipity was truly felt when sorting through a stack of magazines from my mother's home I came across a fill in the blanks Grandparents Book which my mother had written in. The pages are scanned and have been shared with the other family members. What a great blessing to have her fill in the blanks with the stories she shared with us over the years. Memories may fade and having written or recorded histories, however simple they may be, bring back very fond thoughts of one so recently passed away. We also received a recording of her four days before she passed, giving testimony at a City Council meeting. I feel her gently leading to these serendipity discoveries.

Wishing a very peaceful holiday season and a wonderful New Year to all of you. Now I need to decorate and get my yearly family newsletter written. Merry Christmas to all and to all some great serendipity moments gifts.

1 comment:

  1. Susan, this is a beautiful post. It's so nice to recognize some of the greatest gifts don't come with ribbons and bows. Thank you so much for writing this.