Way-Back Advent Calendar: The Christmas Tree

My mom was born in 1949 and along with learning to care for their first child, my grandparents also were acquiring camera skills. Therefore, you’ll have to forgive the blurriness of the following photo:

My Mom’s First Christmas, 1949

By the following year, their technique had improved somewhat (you have to admit, my mom was a moving target):

Mom’s 2nd Christmas, 1950

This is a really nice one:

Mom and Grandma Grace, 1950

By 1959, both cameras and skills had improved quite a bit:

Aunt Joan, Aunt Dorrie, Mom and Aunt Teri, 1959

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 http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

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 http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween c. 1955

While scanning family photos, my aunt and I came across this Halloween class photo (my mom is in the back row, 6th from the left, wearing a bonnet and glasses; I think she’s either a pilgrim or a nurse). This would have been circa 1955. I find the masks to her left completely terrifying. Some of the costumes remind me of the Halloween scenes from the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Those Places Thursday: Grandma’s

Growing up, we often went to visit my grandma at her condo in Alexandria, Va. She hosted big family gatherings at Christmas and Easter. It was fun for the cousins to get together and we would tear around the place (much to Grandma’s dismay) as in the picture below. That’s me in the middle, still wearing a bib after whatever meal we’d just eaten.

Sorting Saturday — Christmas Cards (Oh, and Hi! Remember me?)

Happy New Year!

It’s January 1, 2011, and I’m baaaaccckkk! Did you miss me? :)

The main reason for my blogging hiatus was that I made a bit of house history of my own last month. That on top of the usual Christmas craziness meant that I had to put blogging on the back burner. But I am typing this from my new living room and though there are still boxes to unpack, I wanted to get back in the blogging habit.

I’m trying out some new-to-me themes for the blog as well. This is my first Sorting Saturday post.

My mission today is to sort through the Christmas cards I received this year. It’s time to reclaim my dining room table and buffet, where they’ve been on display. Some have photos I want to hang onto, some have personal messages I want to keep. Many offer congratulations on my new home and I plan to include some, if not all, of these in a scrapbook I’ll be making about my first house.

Do you keep all of your Christmas cards? What do you do with them?

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!

Tricky Valentine

I had originally meant for this to be last week’s Treasure Chest Thursday post, but the snow interrupted my plans. This being Valentine’s Day though, it all worked out. Below is a Valentine’s Day card I found among my mom’s things several years ago:

The butterfly’s wing pops up and everything. The card was still in its original envelope with a postmark that appears to read Feb 12 1950 — my mom would have been a month shy of her first birthday on Valentine’s Day of that year. On the back of the card is the following inscription:

The above reads “To Marcia with love from Grandmother Hayes.” But the return address on the envelope is in El Paso, Texas. That doesn’t make any sense because my Great-Grandmother Hayes lived in Tennessee and, so far as I know, never set foot in Texas (let alone El Paso, which is so far west in Texas, it’s practically in Mexico/New Mexico).

I’ve got my work cut out for me to try and solve this mystery!

SNGF: The Best 2009 Genealogy Moment

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had a chance to participate in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week’s mission from Randy Seaver:

1) “What was your best Genealogy Moment during 2009?” This could be a research find, a fabulous trip, a found family treasure, etc. Your choice!

2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, a comment to this blog post, or a comment to the Twitter or Facebook status line for this post.

I have several moments just from this holiday season that I want to list here and all involve connecting with living family members to discover tidbits about the past. I’ll start with the most recent and work my way backward:

This past week, my sister and I drove from her home in Knoxville, Tenn., to the town of Elizabethton. There, we met up with our great-uncle Ben, whom I hadn’t seen since I was about 12 years old. He’s approaching 80 years old, but drove us all around town, stopping at the house where he grew up — my great-grandmother’s house — I plan to post pics in a separate blog post. I was six years old the last time I was there. We then drove to the cemetery where my great-grandparents are buried. Finally, we all went out for BBQ. It was great to reconnect with Uncle Ben.

Spending time with my sister this past week was fun too — it’s something we haven’t been able to do in several years due to our respective work and school schedules. She took me on the tour of downtown Knoxville, we shopped, we cooked, we ate, we drank, we watched movies, looked at photo albums and just plain ol’ reminisced. Genealogy is about family and therefore quality time with my sister definitely makes it on the list.

Before heading down to Knoxville, I spent Christmas and a couple of days after with one of my aunts. She indulged me and together we went through more than 2,000 family photos, sorting and organizing them into storage boxes. I got to see childhood pics of my mom and her sisters that I’d never seen before. We came across hilarious photos of me and my cousins. Best of all, we found the one scene that had eluded me the past couple of years as I put together scrapbooks about my mom and dad — a photo of just the two of them together. Among the hundreds of photos taken of our extended family trips to the beach, we finally came across a couple shots of them.

Thanksgiving weekend was significant in many ways for my family — my sister and I spent the holiday in Richmond, Va., with our half-brother and his wife. It was the longest amount of time we’d ever spent with them and we had a blast. Besides the wonderful experience of being able to connect with them and their daughter, we made a major genealogical discovery, which I blogged about previously — we discovered the burial locations for several relatives whose remains we feared had been lost. In addition, my sister and I got to see photos of still another half-brother who passed away many years before we were born. My half sister-in-law showed me a bedspread that my grandmother crocheted together with my half-brother’s mother. Several of us went on a slave-trail walk through much of downtown Richmond the day after Thanksgiving. And my half-brother took my sister and I to the Richmond Holocaust Museum, where we got to meet an individual whose family story is featured in an exhibit in the museum. It was a tremendous trip.

Thanks, Randy, for this SNGF prompt!

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.