Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Way-Back Machine Edition

Mom, Grandma Grace, Baby Aunt Joan

A few years ago, I participated in the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. You can read my posts here.

This year, I’m going to do something a little different. I recently acquired a bunch of photos from my mom’s childhood and a large percentage of the photos are from around the holidays. I’m going to try and post most of the photos following this year’s advent calendar prompts.

Stay tuned for lots of 1950s holiday action. The fun starts tomorrow!

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at

Holiday Tidings

I will be taking a sabbatical from blogging this December as I tie up several projects and gear up for the holidays. I wish everyone a happy holiday season and I’ll return with new posts after the New Year.

To tide you over, I encourage you to check out this year’s Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories by my fellow genea-bloggers (check out my own trip down holiday memory lane from last year). New posts will be up daily, so you shall have plenty to read until I return.

Happy Hols, everyone!

Christmas Eve

This is post #24 (last one!) in the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Christmas Eve traditions have varied over the years in my family, depending on who was hosting, when we were traveling, etc.

One Christmas Eve that stands out in my mind was during my senior year of college. My sister flew to Washington, D.C., from Albuquerque and then we drove down to Norris, Tenn. (it’s near Knoxville), to see our mom. In a snow storm.

Our route took us down I-81 in Virginia — a truck route notorious for its two lanes in each direction through mountains and valleys. As I type this (on 12/19), I-81 is shut down during the current snowstorm due to a traffic accident last night. While it usually offers scenic views, the drive itself isn’t always pretty.

That particular Christmas Eve, the roads were so icy that drivers were taking each bridge one car at a time — there was no telling how your car was going to handle the road conditions. And there were a lot of bridges.

When we made it to Lexington, Va., we stopped for lunch at the Wendy’s there and then continued on our way. Two or three harrowing hours later, after many a dicey ice patch, my sister gasped. She had left her purse at the Wendy’s.

I thought about our options for a minute and said, “Carrie, I love you, but we’re not going back for that purse today.”

When we finally reached Mom’s house, 12 hours after we started the drive (it’s usually seven to eight hours from D.C. to Knoxville), my sister was able to call the Wendy’s. They had found her purse and had it stored behind the counter for when we made the drive back to D.C. a few days later.

Unfortunately, when we did make that drive and stopped by the Wendy’s, the manager with whom we had spoken was not there and the other employees couldn’t find my sister’s purse. Thankfully, she was able to fly back to Albuquerque without its contents (this was pre-2001 and I don’t think IDs were required to fly back then). The Wendy’s manager did mail the purse back to her (after taking the money needed for postage out of her wallet). Everything else seemed to still be there though.

Christmas Sweetheart Memories

This is post #23 in the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

One relationship-related Christmas memory involves my first eBay purchase. My boyfriend at the time absolutely loved his car. He wanted to find a model kit for his exact make and model, but was having trouble finding one. I started searching eBay and other sites daily to see if I could find it for him for Christmas.

I eventually did find a model kit on eBay. Never having used the site before, I bid on it immediately, only to be outbid by some guy in Hawaii (harumph). I’d bid again and so would he.

I mentioned this to my mom, who was an expert eBayer. She told me to stop bidding for the meantime, I’d only jack up the price. Instead, she said to wait until the last ten minutes and monitor the auction closely. Within the last two minutes, I should make my move.

I followed her advice and won the kit! I was so ecstatic. My boyfriend was thrilled when he opened the gift on Christmas. We parted ways several years ago, but it’s still one of my favorite Christmas gift-score stories.

Christmas and Deceased Relatives

This is post #22 for the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

I don’t have any traditions to report regarding formal remembrances of deceased family members during the holidays. However, just by being around family on Christmas, we often reminisce about Christmases past and those who are no longer with us. I have plenty of holiday memories of my mom, dad and grandma and I think of them often during this time of year.

This year, I’ll be taking several new scrapbooks I’ve made recently on my trips to see family — that will be a nice way to trigger memories to share.

Christmas Music

This is post #21 in the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

I admit it. When not listening to audiobooks on my commute during the Christmas season, I’m tuned in to one of the DC/Baltimore radio stations that play only Christmas music. Usually grinning as they play one of my faves.

I prefer the oldies-but-goodies — sung by the likes of Burl Ives and Nat King Cole. I also like the more recent, humorous ones like “Crabs for Christmas” and “The 12 Things at Christmas that are Such a Pain to Me.” However, I can only enjoy the latter in small doses.

My absolute favorite Christmas music is probably that performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio for the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” special.

Growing up, I had several Christmas records that I enjoyed listening to. One featured “Frosty the Snowman” and another that I remember clearly had songs sung by a boys’ choir. I have my mom’s four-CD set “Joy to the World” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I’ve never been caroling, but I do remember a group of neighbors doing so when I was little. It was neat when they visited our house.

Christmas Shopping

This is post #19 in the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

I’ve always loved Christmas shopping and always try to put thought into the gifts I buy for people. At my elementary school, they would hold a craft fair with many inexpensive gifts — I remember shopping for my grandma there one year. As I reached middle-school age, I remember being let loose in the mall with my best friend.

My mom was the consummate catalog shopper and many L.L. Bean, Land’s End and other catalog faves could be found under our tree each year.

I’ve had many an Amazon Christmas. I tried to scale back on that this year and shopped more locally — I even trekked to a local bison farm for bison wool yarn for one of my knitting friends. Of course, many friends and fam have or will receive scrapbooking and photo-related gifts from Creative Memories this year (no surprise there!).

Christmas Stockings

This is post #18 in the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Digging into my Christmas stocking is one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning. I love chocolate, for one thing, and my stocking was always full of Christmas chocolates. We always saved our stockings for last on Christmas morning. I think this was due in part to the fact it was impossible to keep me and my sister from tearing into the presents under the tree as soon as we spied them.

I don’t think I have the stocking pictured here anymore, but I do have the personalized stockings that my mom had made for me and my sister after my sister was born. I pull these out when she comes to visit for Christmas. I also still have my mom’s stocking. Can’t bear to part with that.

Treasure Chest Thursday: Little Golden Rudolph

I was an avid reader as a kid and loved a lot of the stories around Christmas. I still have this Little Golden Book version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I remember having a storybook for Twas the Night Before Christmas. I also enjoyed reading the various Christmas stories in book series like Little House on the Prairie.

This is post #17 in the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.