Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Advent Calendar--Christmas Eve

For many years my family would read the Christmas story from the scriptures and talk about it or maybe sing a few songs.  Usually there are a lot of last minute preparations like wrapping gifts and preparing food.  Most of our Christmas parties and programs are held before Christmas Eve, so we don't usually go somewhere else.  Usually Christmas Eve is for family activities.  Our family usually drives around on Christmas Eve and we look at all the Christmas lights around town.  There is a lot of anticipation on Christmas Eve and a lot of memories can be created of love and togetherness. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas and Deceased Relatives

We didn't visit the cemetary at Christmas time to remember deceased relatives.  We just remembered the things they would do at Christmas time.  The first Christmas after my mother died was hard.  I still remember people trying to make Christmas a little better for us.  There was the lady from Greece who lived down the street from my grandmother.  She gave us a plate of many different Greek cookies.  They were so good.  Then I remember the lady in our town who made us a cake shaped like a Christmas tree, frosted with green frosting and decorated with candies.  We were sad to not have our mother there with all the things she would do to make Christmas special for us, but we felt loved by others who reached out to brighten our Christmas that year.  Remembering our family members who are no longer here is something we can do.  We can remember the good times and what they did for us.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Calendar--Christmas Music

Hearing Christmas music seems to bring the feeling of Christmas.  In college when it snowed and the radio station started playing Christmas music it made me and my roommates feel excited about Christmas and so we baked cookies.  As a teenager we would go caroling and that seemed to bring more excitement for Christmas.  I enjoyed playing Christmas music in band and singing Christmas carols.  I like to put on Christmas music at home to help bring more of a feeling of Christmas.  I can't imagine Christmas without music.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Calendar--Religious Services

All of my life religious services have been an important part of our Christmas celebration.  We attend church every Sunday.  The Sunday before Christmas there is usually a special Christmas program with music and a retelling of the Christmas story from the scriptures.  If Christmas Eve or Christmas Day fall on a Sunday, usually church services are shortened.  The emphasis is more on family celebrations, although church services are still important.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Calendar--Christmas Shopping

When I was young we went Christmas shopping on one of the Saturdays that we were in the city fifteen miles from our home.  There were only a few stores to choose from.  A lot of my shopping was done at Woolsworth when I was young.  My sister was old enough to shop on her own.  My brother and I needed help so one parent would go with me and one would go with my brother.  They would help us pick out something that the other family members would like.  They would keep an eye out for each other and would steer us a different direction if we got too close to each other.  They would then see that we check out at different times so we couldn't see what the other was buying.  I'm sure my parents shopped at other times.  Sometimes they shopped through mail order catalogs.  Shopping can be exciting as you imagine the one you are buying the gift opening and enjoying the gift.  Sometimes it is overwhelming and discouraging.  There may be too many choices or there may not be enough money to get the gift you really want to give.  Some years when money is tight making gifts is the best option.  If you already have the supplies then you don't have to go shopping.   

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Calendar--Christmas Stockings

Growing up we never had special Christmas stockings.  We always just hung up a clean sock.  Usually we used one of my dad's socks since his were the biggest.  We didn't have a fireplace so we hung them from pieces of furniture in the living room.  It seemed that every year there was an orange, a ball, a toothbrush and then different items according to our age and interests that filled our stockings.
With my own daughters we got special Christmas stockings.  We put names on the stockings to identify whose was whose.  My third daughter was born just an hour and a half after Christmas.  She was sent home with a stocking that was big enough for a newborn to fit into.  Of course that was the stocking she would like to hang since it held so much more. We hung stockings on a wood-burning stove in one home, from a book shelf in another home and from the fireplace in out last home.  One year we forgot the stockings on our trip to my parent's home.  We made a quick visit to a thrift store and purchased stockings for each family member.

Even though my daughters are all adults now they want to hang stockings for Christmas.  Stockings are a fun part of Christmas since there are always goodies to eat and useful or fun items in each stocking.
I don't know what my grandparents or great grandparents did about stockings, but I imagine if they hung stockings it was maybe one their dad's socks they hung up.  It would be interesting to see what they did and what they got in their stockings.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent Calendar--Grab Bag 2

I've always loved Christmas music.  In school we would sing Christmas carols.  At church we would sing Christmas hymns.  I loved walking into a store and hearing Christmas music.  I enjoyed being in the band in junior high and high school and playing Christmas music every day for much of November and December.  I loved singing with the choir at church and preparing for Christmas by singing Christmas carols.  As a teenager one of our church activities just before Christmas was to ride on a hay wagon or in the back of a truck up and down the main street in our town and sing Christmas carols.  We always had hot chocolate and cookies or doughnuts afterwards.  As an adult I've gone with groups to sing Christmas carols at rest homes which can be a very emotional experience.  The first year that I lived away from home going to college it snowed early, and the radio station started playing Christmas music.  My roommates and I felt so much in the Christmas spirit that we started baking cookies and singing along with the radio.  One of the highlights I remember from living in Salt Lake City was the year I took one of my daughters with me to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas Concert that was being recorded to be broadcast on PBS.  Christmas music has made a big difference in my life.  If I'm feeling discouraged, I can start playing Christmas music and it helps me feel better. 

I think music was important to at least some of my ancestors.  I have several ancestors who crossed the plains, some with very little.  Some crossed using handcarts and they were only allowed 16 pounds of belongings per person.  I know that music was used among the pioneers to help them.  If someone had a fiddle or violin they would start playing after they had stopped to camp and many would dance.  They sang songs and hymns to help them get through the journey.  Although we weren't a piano-playing family, music was part of our lives.  My mother's father gave her a guitar just a short time before he died.  She didn't learn to play it, but she treasured the guitar.  It is one of my treasured possessions since I inherited it from her.  Recently I learned that one of my ancestors contributed the wood to make the first organ in the tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  It's obvious that he valued music.  I don't have any stories of ancestors and Christmas music, but I have feeling it was important to them too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Calendar--Christmas and School

I remember making paper chains out of red and green paper for Christmas.  I'm sure there were other crafts that we made at school.  I know we sang Christmas carols.  We weren't restricted to secular songs.  We sang religious carols too.  In junior high and high school I played a flute in the band.  We always did a Christmas concert with a wide selection of music.  I enjoyed playing Christmas music for almost an hour each day during November and December.  I'm not sure what my parents or grandparents did for Christmas in school, but I imagine they had Christmas music and made decorations too.
I've kept a lot of the Christmas decorations my daughters made.  Some of them are getting rather worn, but I hate to throw out the things they made.  Some still work well for decorating  The others will hopefully bring back good memories for them. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Calendar--Birthdays & Anniversaries Close to Christmas

My father was born just a few days before Christmas.  I'm sure he was a wonderful addition to their Christmas that year.  I know we would buy him a birthday present and give it to him on his birthday.  Then he would get Christmas presents too on Christmas.  We would make him a cake for his birthday, even though there are a lot of other goodies available at Christmas. 

Advent Calendar--Fruitcake

My dad liked fruitcake and my mother would bake one each year for Christmas.  She never used alcohol in it, so it didn't stay good for long like some fruitcakes will.  Reading about the history of fruitcakes, I learned that fruitcakes came to Europe in the 1400's.  The fruits and nuts were more plentiful in the Middle East than in Europe.  That may have been why it came to associated with Christmas because of where the ingredients came from.  Fruitcakes kept well and were a satisfying luxury.  I like fruitcake although I don't usually make it since it's not a favorite treat in my family.  It would be interesting to know who of my ancestors liked and made fruitcake, but unfortunately I don't know that information. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Calendar--Holiday Travel

As a child growing up we never traveled more than 15 miles for Christmas and that was to see my maternal grandmother.  Christmas was always at home.  After getting married I lived 120 miles away from my parents which was only a two hour trip unless the weather was bad.  In bad weather the canyon road through the mountains could be treacherous.  My dad would tell us to not come down if bad weather.  He said he would worry too much.  Instead we would visit by phone and we would plan another trip when the weather was good.
When we moved over 500 miles from my parents going back for Christmas was really hard.  The first Christmas we paid for my parents to ride the train from their home to a city 150 miles away from us.  Then we had five hours of driving to go pick them up and bring them to our home.  Traveling at Christmas can be hard.  The weather can create difficult and even sometimes life-threatening travel conditions.  Then packing all your gifts plus the things you need for any trip makes it challenging for a large family.  I know families who will travel for Thanksgiving, but who choose to stay home for Christmas.  In today's world with telephones, cell phones, and web cameras you can be in touch on Christmas even though you are not there in person.  You can give your hugs when you visit at other times of the year.

Whether traveling or talking by phone or on the web Christmas is a time to let other family members know you love them.   

LDS Living Magazine

When I read the following article, I thought that describes my feelings about Santa Claus and Christmas. One family in the town I grew up in didn't let their children believe in Santa Claus. Their kids wouldn't go up to see Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. They felt they weren't being honest with their kids because there is no scientific proof that there is a Santa Claus. History says there was a Saint Nicholas who gave gifts anonymously. I really like this article because believing is a wonderful thing and we can't scientifically prove everything. There are many mysteries in this world and much that we do not know. You can prove something exists, but you can't prove it doesn't exist. I think you will find the following article very interesting to read.

LDS Living Magazine

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Calendar--Charitable or Volunteer Work

I don't remember any big events of doing charitable or volunteer work when I was growing up.  I know I was encouraged to volunteer in many little ways as an ongoing way of life throughout the year.  Every month we would skip two meals and then we would donate the money that would have been spent on the food for those two meals to our church where it would be used for people who were lacking or in need.  We might take food to a family where there was an illness or death.  I remember babysitting without pay.  Our family raised chickens and sold their eggs.  One elderly lady we would give a dozen cracked eggs to without taking any payment for them.  She was very appreciative and every so often she would bake a loaf of banana bread to say thank you.                                     
Perhaps I really didn't know what my parents did because they didn't talk about it openly.As an adult I have had more experiences.   We try to take the opportunity to help out in many small every day ways.  But I have been involved in bigger projects.  For a couple of winters some of the ladies at our church have gotten together and made hats, mittens, scarves and lapblankets for the center in our town that helps those in need.  Other years we have put together hygiene kits, first aid kits, newborn kits, and school kits that can be sent to places in the world that need them.  One year with a group of other single parents and their children we picked a family that was in real need and we gathered gifts together for them.  We parked down the street and around the corner from their house.  We hurriedly placed the gifts on their porch then ran to hide behind bushes and trees while one designated person rang the doorbell.  What a wonderful warm feeling it was to see the surprised faces as they found these unexpected gifts on their front porch.
It doesn't take a big project to make a difference.  Little things can add up.  Helping an organized group can be a good way to volunteer.  Donating food or a toy can be another way to help.  Donating money can help.  Just having the desire to help can make a big difference.
As I think about my ancestors I do not know a lot about what they did to help others.  I'm sure they did little things to help others.  Most of my ancestors were pioneers who settled Utah.  They had to help each other in order to survive there.  My father's great grandfather brought his family across the plains in the Wiley handcart company that was overcome by snow and cold and where many died.  I know they received help from men who risked their lives to travel in the snow to rescue them.  All members of his family survived.  The Christmas that followed must have been a special one for them as families in Salt Lake City took in the survivors of the handcart companies and helped them through that winter.  I'm sure they in turn helped others as they helped build settlements in Utah and Arizona.  It would be wonderful to hear their stories especially of what Christmas was like and how they helped others and how they were helped.
To me Christmas is the celebration of our Savior's birth.  He was the real example of love and charity.  Helping others is truly the way to celebrate Christmas. 

Did You Know?

I find this video amazing at how fast things are changing. I think when we look at the past and how life was for our ancestors and then we look at how quickly it is changing now just in our lifetimes, we will certainly gain a new perspective on life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Calendar--Other Traditions

My ancestors all came from Europe and had Christian backgrounds.  Christmas was what they would have celebrated.  I don't know how they celebrated though.  I have often wished that my parents and grandparents were still alive and that I could ask them questions about things I'm curious about.  When I see people who know their great grandparents I think what a great blessing they have in their lives.  My great grandparents all died before I was even born.  If your parents, grandparents or great grandparents are still alive, now is the time to get their stories.  Ask them what their lives were like and write it down.  Some day you will be very glad you did and your children will probably be very glad too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar--Christmas Gifts

There were always gifts for Christmas, but they weren't usually expensive or fancy.  Often gifts were things we would need any way such as socks, underwear, toothbrushes, etc.  My parents tried to provide some fun gifts too.  I remember when all the girls my age were getting Barbie dolls with sets of clothes.  My mother made clothes to fit an inexpensive doll from a craft catalog that you could crochet a dress for and turn into a bed doll.  This doll's legs didn't move, but you could still dress her up and make up pretend stories about her.  A couple of years later I received a Tammy doll.  The Tammy doll wasn't as sophisticated looking.  She looked more like me.  She wore shoes with a small heel rather than the high heels Barbie wore. Her body shape was more balanced and she didn't look top-heavy.  I've always seen myself more as a Tammy than as a Barbie.
When my daughters were young the Cabbage Patch doll craze was in full motion.  I couldn't believe parents were paying $80 just for a doll and kind of a plain looking doll at that.  I was a child care provider and the mother of one little girl I cared for told me of her experience at the store.  Her daughter was her only child and she had a pretty good income being employed by the Civil Service in the Federal Building in our city.  She had already purchased a Cabbage Patch doll for her daughter for Christmas.  She took her daughter with her shopping one day when her daughter spotted a Cabbage Patch doll.  She begged her mother to buy her one.  When her mother said no, she began to throw a tantrum.  Her mother tried to hurriedly checkout with her purchases, but there was a line of customers.  She ignored her daughter's tears knowing her daughter would keep trying to get her mother to buy the doll.  Another customer in line said to this mother, "Just buy her the doll."  The mother couldn't believe that another adult would think the solution to this tantrum was to buy the doll.  She knew buying the doll right then would reward her daughter for the tantrum.  Besides she already had the doll had home as a gift for her daughter. 

My daughters were very patient about gifts.  They didn't mind second hand toys and clothes that were in good condition.  They found joy and pleasure even in inexpensive gifts and in handmade gifts even though they were imperfect.  It would be nice if we could always give the perfect gifts, but life isn't perfect and none of us are perfect so we need to appreciate the efforts and desires others have to please us. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Calendar--Grab Bag

White elephant gifts are something I only learned about as an adult.  At first I thought it really needed to be a nice gift and it needed to be wrapped in nice wrapping paper.  I soon found out it shouldn't be expensive (it could even be a used item you wanted to get rid of) and it could be wrapped in newspaper or put in a plain bag.  It could be fun to offer a chance to trade before opening gifts.  You never know for sure what you are getting.
Sometimes when money isn't plentiful it can help to be creative.  Some people wrap a small gift in several boxes with each box wrapped and having to opened only to find another box that has to be opened.  Some people do a treasure hunt to find the gift.  Some have a riddle that has to be answered before opening the gift.  Maybe making a game out of gift giving can help to make up for not having spectacular gifts when money is in short supply. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent Calendar--Christmas Cookies

During my childhood I don't remember making a specific kind of cookie for Christmas.  I remember making sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies, bar cookies, brownies, peanut butter cookies, and a cookie like a macaroon made from corn flakes.  My grandmother made filled cookies with her homemade plum preserves or with raisins.
With my own daughters we usually made sugar cookies and cut out Christmas shapes from them.  One year I got a set of cookie cutters that form the nativity. 
There have been cookie exchanges where each person bakes one kind of cookie then brings a dozen cookie and trades their cookies for different cookies that others have brought.  That can be a fun way to get a variety of cookies.
There are wonderful memories of plates of cookies and other goodies being left on the doorstep anonymously. 
The plates of cookies given in friendship are wonderful.  The Christmas after my mother died a neighbor of my grandmother gave us a plate of Greek cookies.  She was from Greece and I really had a hard time understanding what she said.  The saying "It's all Greek to me" really meant something to me after I met her.  Those Greek cookies were wonderful.  Perhaps it was the love that she shared with us that made them taste so good.
Of course a couple of cookies always had to be left for Santa.
Cookies have made Christmas a fun time especially as I've spent time with my daughters making them or as I have shared them with others.

Advent Calendar--Holiday Parties

Holiday parties when I was growing up were usually at our church.  We usually had a dinner with a program singing Christmas carols and with a telling of the Christmas story sometimes with a live nativity.  Then Santa would come and give out bags of candy.  My parents also took us to the city auditorium in the city fifteen miles away where my grandmother lived.  There we would sing carols until Santa came.
My parents didn't hold parties at our home.  I didn't attend parties at other people's homes.  My parents were self-employed farmers and didn't have office parties to go to.
Parties haven't been a very big part of our Christmas celebration as our focus has been more on family and on church.
I received the following email which I don't know who to attribute it to as the creator of it, but I think it holds a lot to think about when it comes to Holiday parties.
Dear loved ones,
As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer.

It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago.. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don't know the meaning of the celebration.

I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many  beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn't invited. I was the guest of honor and they didn't remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they closed the door in my face .... and I wanted to be with them and share their table.

In truth, that didn't surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me. Since I wasn't invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner. They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time. To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying: "Santa Claus, Santa Claus" .. as if the party were in his honor!

At 12 Midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and ... do you know ... no one hugged me. Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with  great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me.

What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one? I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left.

Every year it gets worse. People only remember to eat and drink, the gifts, the parties and nobody remembers me. I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life. I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you. Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart.

I want to share something with you. As many didn't invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party.

I'm still making the final arrangements. Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you. I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book. Only those on the guest list will be invited to the party. Those who don't answer the invite, will be left outside.
Be prepared because when all is ready you will be part of my great party.

See you soon.
I Love you!

Please share this message with your loved ones, before Christmas.

Advent Calendar--Santa

The Advent Calendar posed the following questions for December 6:  Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?  I had several things I had to do that prevented me from doing the post on December 6, but I still wanted to write about these questions.
I never sent a letter to Santa.  We always got to see Santa usually at a Christmas party at our church and also at the city auditorium where my Grandmother lived fifteen miles from our home.  We would stand in line to see Santa and tell him what we wanted. 
Santa has continued to be a part of my life and blessed my family throughout the years.  Growing up we questioned Santa coming down the chimney.  We had a coal burning furnace which wouldn't have been a great way for Santa to enter our home.  So we figured Santa either came in through the door or he came in magically.  Part of the fun of Santa is not having all the answers but imagining and believing.
As a young mother looking at spending Christmas alone because my daughters' father had gone to back to his home country to spend Christmas with his family, I was fearful of being alone.  I had grown up in a small town where we didn't even lock the door.  Now I was in a big city where neighbors had had their homes robbed and vandalized and even one neighbor had been shot in his home during a breakin.  I was scared of being responsible for two little girls in such a situation.  I believe it was the night before Christmas Eve after 9 o'clock at night when there was a knock at the door.  I wasn't expecting anyone.  I was nervous as I peered out a window at the front porch to see who was there.  There was no one there.  Having heard warnings of thieves knocking on the door to see if anyone is at home and then breaking in, I couldn't stop worrying that someone was planning to breakin.  I checked to make sure every window and door was locked and then went to bed for a restless night's sleep.  The next morning when I went out the front door, I found a bag.  Inside were two baby dolls.  Santa had left the dolls on the front porch for my girls.  I realized how supicious I had become instead of believing in the goodness of others. 
Santa came in succeeding years in many different ways.  Some years packages filled with clothes, toys, and food were left on the porch when we weren't home.  One year Santa gave me gift certificates in advance to buy gifts for my girls.  One year a cashier's check arrived in an envelope with no return address.  One year a UPS driver delivered a package with no return address, and he asked us who it was from as he had to put down who the sender was.  No one had let us know they were sending a package.  No one ever asked if we got the package okay.  It was filled with gifts for our girls.  We only could say it must be from Santa.  Another year a friend brought by a bicycle for my daughter saying it wasn't from him, he was only delivering it for somone else.  Santa has come in many ways and brought many wonderful things into my life.  Santa has been a real blessing to me.  Santa has made me realize there is much goodness in the world.
Some people don't want to have Santa come.  They still give gifts, but they don't do things anonymously.  They only believe in the facts and don't want magical beliefs or imagination to enter in.  But believing in something good is a wonderful thing even though you can't explain it or prove it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Advent Calendar Outside Decorations

I started posting blogs yesterday for the Advent Calendar at  When I saw today's subject for the blog was outdoor decorations I realized I had already done a post about outdoor lighting.  So instead of writing it all over again I invite you to go to the post titled
"Adapting Christmas Traditions to Your Circumstances."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories for 2009 at

Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?

I've decided to participate in an Advent Calendar by doing a post with the answers to the above questions.  A great way for you to record your family's story is to answer the above questions yourself.

As a child I don't remember my family sending Christmas cards.  There may have been a few cards sent, but most of my family lived close and my parents had lived most of their lives within a fifteen to twenty mile area.  My parents didn't have distant family and friends to stay in touch with so Christmas cards weren't a big part of our Christmas traditions.
As an adult I have found sending Christmas cards to be a great way to stay in touch with some people.  For twelve years I lived 120 miles away from where I grew up.  I would send some Christmas cards to stay in touch with family and friends.  It didn't always work as some people didn't write back and sometimes I ended up not knowing where they were any more.  When I moved 500 miles away, I found Christmas cards kept me in touch with my family and with friends I'd moved away from.  It was interesting to read family newsletters and see family photos as their children grew up.  I tried to compose a newsletter each year with all the family accomplishments in it.  I didn't mind that the newsletter was the same one they sent out to others because I knew that time might prevent them from writing personal letters to everyone they wanted to stay in touch with.  I knew I could send out more cards and letters when I didn't have to compose a new letter for each one.  The other advantage is I have a brief family history composed in the newsletter each year.  It is another way to preserve my family's story.
Most years the newsletter has been about individual family members accomplishments.  Sometimes it almost seemed a competition to see who was doing the most things, who was on the honor roll, who graduated with honors and so on.  It is easier to write a newsletter about the good things that happen.  It is hard to write one when the news is not so good.  Ten years ago our newsletter contained a lot of bad news.  The main employer in our town cut their workforce in half.  The economy in our town went downhill fast.  The next closest towns were 50 and 72 miles away.  Employment was difficult to find.  Selling a home was next to impossible.  My husband was one of the unlucky ones who lost their jobs.  I had part time work so we stayed put in our home while my husband tried to find work elsewhere and finally decided to try to open a business.  Unfortunately a trip we took that summer ended tragically with an accident.  My sister-in-law died at the scene.  I spent six months recovering from it.  My youngest daughter spent four months recovering.  My husband died a month after the accident.  My brother-in-law died three months after the accident.  My newsletter that year was not full of joy, yet there was hope even in the worst of circumstances.
I like to display the Christmas cards I receive to remind me of the friends I have.  We have a large mirror in our foyer where I have been able to wedge Christmas cards in between the frame and the mirror.  I usually am able to completely surround the mirror with cards.  Some years I don't get Christmas cards done until a day or two before Christmas.  Still I send them out because I want others to know I still remember them.
Some years I've added a picture of the family or a picture of where we live either to the card or to the newsletters.  Pictures are another way of preserving your family's story.

I wish I knew what my grandparents did about Christmas cards, but I don't know.  Sometimes the little things can add a lot to your family story.  When writing your family story write down some of the little things that may one day be interesting to your family.

Adapting Christmas Traditions to Your Circumstances

Christmas traditions are great memory makers. Perhaps the Christmas traditions you grew up are now the traditions in your family. You may have had to change and adapt the traditions to fit new circumstances.
An example from my life has been Christmas lights. When I was young my Dad always hung a string of lights around the front door and window. We also had lights on the Christmas tree which was put in front of one of the windows. It was comforting to see the string of lights when we came over the small hill leaving town and heading for our home. Our home was one mile away from town with only had a couple of neighbors between our house and the town, so it was easy to see the Christmas lights on our house. Our town was only about 300 people in size. I think there may have been a few strings of lights put across the street, but most of the lighting was done by people on their own homes.
In the city fifteen miles from our town there were several strings of lights across the street. Sometimes the red and green lights being confused with the signal lights caused problems. They also decorated an evergreen tree in the park.
After getting married we lived in Salt Lake City. We didn't hang lights from the roof. Instead I put lights around the windows and also on the Christmas tree which was in front of a window. We had a tradition of always going to Temple Square to see the Christmas lights there which was always spectacular.
Then we moved to a small town of about 6000 people. There were a few lights put up on main street. We put a few lights up around windows and doors and on our Christmas tree. We couldn't go see a big display of Christmas lights like we had at Temple Square, so on Christmas Eve we would climb in the car and drive around town looking at all the lights on different houses.
Our traditions had to change as the circumstances for our family changed. Christmas lights remained an important part of our family's traditions even though things were different over the years. I have often wondered what my grandparents and great grandparents did when it came to lights and Christmas. I've wondered if they put candles on their Christmas trees. Who was the first to have electric lights, and when did they start putting them on their trees. It would be interesting if they were still alive and could share their story of Christmas lights. Since they are not and I don't have their stories, I feel it is important to share my story. Write down your story of Christmas traditions in your family so your family will know what you did.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thankful Despite Challenges

It's only a little over a week away until Thanksgiving. With underemployment and unemployment problems in our family, things are uncertain of what we can do for Thanksgiving this year. We don't know that we can all be together this year. It can be hard to look forward to a holiday that isn't going to be what you would hope that it could be. Focusing on the things we are grateful for is one way to help keep one's attitude positive. I have been trying to write down every day five things I am grateful for. Some days I have to stop and think because I want to write down new things that I am grateful each day. At one time I was writing down three things I was grateful for each day. It became challenging and I dropped back to writing down at least one thing I was grateful for each day. After hearing this challenge to write down five things each day, I decided to try it. I need all the help I can get to stay focused on the positive right now.
The Power of Attitude
Sometimes I write down what I am grateful for that is not happening in my life. I am thankful I don't personally have to deal with a natural disaster right now. I am grateful I am not living in a war zone. I am grateful I am not suffering from a lot of pain. I am grateful I am not homeless. When I think about some of my ancestors, I can find other things I am grateful for. I am grateful I am not trying to pull a handcart with very few possessions across the plains in a snowstorm as my great, great grandfather and his family did. I am grateful I have not been driven out of my home by mobs as another great great grandfather and his family were. As I learn the stories of my ancestors, I find many things to be grateful for. I am very blessed in my life when I look at what they went through. I am very grateful for the strength they had to do what they felt was right despite severe difficulties. When I consider their problems, I find I have much to be grateful. It does change my perspective on how my life is. Trying to find and keep the stories of my ancestors is a great blessing in my life giving me much more to be thankful for.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remember This Year's Halloween

It's only two more days until Halloween. You are probably making last minute preparations. You are getting costumes ready. You are making goodies or treats for a dinner or party. You get your decorations up. You plan to have plenty of treats for Trick or Treating. You carve your pumpkin.
While you are busy getting ready, don't forget to record what you did for Halloween. Take time to take pictures of your decorations, your costume, your jack-o-lantern and the parties you attend. When you are a little less busy like the day after Halloween, take time to write down memorable experiences from this year's celebration. Years from now you or your family will find it interesting to read and see what happened on this particular Halloween.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Spooky Memories

As you prepare for Halloween, take some time to remember the things you did in the past. What you did in the past may inspire you for what to do now. What you did in the past may be interesting and intriguing to your family now. Do you have photos of past Halloween celebrations? Put those on display in a photo album or in a scrapbook. Frame some to help decorate your house for Halloween. Check out the following lenses for some more ideas to make your Halloween memorable.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another Testament of Christ Slideshow

Here is another video that I feel expresses my beliefs. It is important to share your beliefs in your story.

Another Testament Trailer

Sharing your personal beliefs can be a very important part of your story. This video shows my beliefs. Add to your story by sharing your beliefs whether through the written word, through songs, through videos, or through pictures.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I have read a couple of articles lately about happiness and one of the things suggested to do to raise your happiness level is to be grateful. It was suggested to think of all the things you are grateful for. Another suggestion was to look at family photos of happy memories which is more effective than many of the other suggestions in raising your happiness level. When I was a girl, I loved to look at the family photos. They were all kept in a box. My mother had started a family history book, but she only had a few photos in it. A year or so before she died she went through the photos and gave me several photos to put in an album for myself. I truly appreciated her doing that as I may have never been able to know for sure if a photo was of me or my sister since we looked so much alike when we were young. I have a lot more photos than what my mother did. I am trying to scan them in on the computer and organize them. Then I can make slide shows or videos with the photos. I work on scrapbooks to keep photos and the stories behind them more accessible. Photo albums can be another good choice for keeping photos easy to see and look through. We are so lucky to have so many photos of our memories today. If we take time to look through them, maybe we'll be some of the happiest people in the world.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dawn Patrol Timelapse Reno Nevada Sept 8 2007

Time Lapse Nevada Great Balloon Race, 2007. Watch in HD

Great Reno Balloon Race

Dawn Patrol Reno Balloon Races

On Point - Great Reno Balloon Race Dawn Patrol

Fun Family Times

My daughter recently made a Squidoo lens about the Great Reno Balloon Race. As I read her lens I remembered my first experience with the Hot Air Balloon Race. I was recovering from an accident in a hospital twenty miles from Reno. The first day of the Balloon Race I saw the balloons starting to rise up into the air across the valley. The hospital was located on the side of the mountains and had a nice view of the valley towards the west. I turned on the TV and was able to watch the balloons up close. It was a fun experience to see the balloons at a distance and then watch the TV to see them up close.
A couple of years later I went with my daughters to see the Balloon Race in person. We got up before sunrise to see the Dawn Patrol. It was awesome to see the balloons lighting up in the pre-dawn sky. We found a spot where we could sit between balloons and watch them being filled with hot air and then rising up into the sky. It was amazing to be that close to the balloons. We spent a few hours that morning watching the balloons. It was a most enjoyable family outing. I'm glad my daughters talked me into it. It is something to remember for the rest of my life.
I have pictures of the Balloon Race, but until now I haven't written down how I felt about the experience. It is a good thing to record the experiences we have with our families and how we felt about them. Reading my daughter's Squidoo lens reminded me that I need to record more about the experiences we've had as a family.
You can see my daughter's lens at .

Saturday, July 25, 2009


The way we see things is unique. Our perspective on an experience may be totally different from what someone's is. That is why recording our feelings about experiences we have had in life is so important. Even though our family members may have had the same experience, they will have a different perspective on it. Sharing our perspective may help others to understand us and to understand the experience better too. Writing our story helps others to see our perspective on things.

An Ancestor's Story

Today I saw this video. It is a story about the Martin Handcart Company. My great great grandparents and their children were members of the Martin Handcart Company and they were the recipients of the kindness of the three young men in this video. Every so often I encounter a story about one of my ancestors that makes them seem more real and I see them in a different light. I can't help but think how grateful they were for those young men. When you come across a story about one of your ancestors record it as another part of your family's story.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Too Many Choices?

If you're like me, you have too many choices of things you need and want to do. When I was a young girl, the choices were more limited. My family didn't have a television until I was about nine years old, so watching a television program was not a choice for me when I was little. Today I can turn on the television and watch local programs. I can subscribe to cable or satellite services and watch hundreds of channels on my television. I can use high speed Internet service and watch television programs, videos, news broadcasts, and movies. I can put a video tape in a VCR or a DVD in a DVD player and watch a movie or documentary. I can record broadcasts to watch at a later time.
When I was young we had maybe 40 or 50 books in my home. The closest library was five miles away. My parents subscribed to a daily newspaper and to a couple of magazines a month. Now I have hundreds of books in my home. The library is less than a mile away and I can order in books at the library from other cities in our state. I can read newspapers online. I can research and find websites on almost any topic I want.
When I was young we didn't eat out. We might get an ice cream cone at a drive in once in a while, but we always ate our meals at home unless we were traveling. Then my mother usually packed a lunch or we picked up a few things at a grocery store. Even when we went to a drive-in theatre, my mother brought our own treats. The types of fruits and vegetable available was limited. Prepared and packaged foods were more limited and most of our food was prepared from scratch. Growing up on a farm, we had our milk straight from the cow and eggs fresh from the chickens. During the summer we would pick vegetables out of the garden and fruit off the trees in the orchard. Today eating out is a frequent occurrence for most people. When traveling stopping at fast food places is quick and easy and eating in a restaurant is a nice break. We have fruits and vegetables available from around the world and at almost any time of the year.
Sometimes the choices seem almost overwhelming. When you shop for something to eat, you have numerous choices of where to shop. Then you have several choices of what to buy. When you want entertainment, you have several choices. When you need information, you have several ways to get the information.
Recording what life was like in years past compared to now can be eye opening for yourself as well as for your children or grandchildren. Start to write down how your life has changed. You have many choices of how to record your life story. You can write it with pencil and paper, type it on a typewriter or enter it into a computer. You can make an audio recording or you can make a video recording. You can take pictures with a regular camera or a digital camera or a video camera. You can type or print out your written story, make a CD or DVD of your story, publish your story on a website, or make a scrapbook, make a book with the printed story and photographs. But whatever way you choose, just start to record your story.
Personal Historian Software

Saturday, June 6, 2009

How's the Weather

When you write your story, writing what the weather was like can add a lot to your story. What you did and how you did it is definately affected by the weather. Maybe you traveled to see something special and because of the weather, you weren't able to see it. Maybe like friends of ours who made a trip back east during the summertime and ended up outrunning tornados, you have a lot of excitement added to your story. The weather really does affect our lives. Include information about the weather when it adds to your life story. It will make it more interesting and more real.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Illness Strikes

Recording illnesses doesn't seem like the best entries in your story. Illnesses are a time of discouragement, fear and sometimes wondering if life will ever be good again. I got sick this last week bad enough to miss work. I've had people ask me if I had the Swine Flu which has been in the world news. My symptoms were different, and I don't even live close to any confirmed cases of the Swine Flu. There is a lot of fear over this illness, so people ask.
Illnesses really do affect our lives. When we recover from an illness, we appreciate the good health we enjoy again. While we deal with the unpleasantness of an illness we learn patience and perseverance. Recording what we did to cope with an illness may be helpful to someone else dealing with a similar illness. If something we did made the illness worse, that information may be very important to another person. Describing the symptoms we have with a certain condition may help another person determine the disease they may be suffering from. Some diseases run in families so recording the information may help another family member determine what they are suffering from.
It would be nice if life were always pleasant and good. No one avoids problems, so knowing that others have struggled too can be very helpful. When you record your life story put in some of the health problems you've had. Then record the things you are grateful for: the medicine that made you better, the neighbor that brought over chicken soup, the surgeon that repaired the damage, the story that made you smile and most of all the wonderful feeling of having good health restored.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Community History Videos

Here are a couple more videos that give history of a community we've lived in. It is part of our family's history. Perhaps you can find videos or photos or stories of the places you have lived and gather more information for you family's story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Personal History recorded in a News Video

Following is a video about a friend where she talks about her experience as a USO girl. I learned more about her from this news report. Personal history can be found in many ways. You may never have a news video made about you, but you might learn some history from news videos about people you know or places you have lived.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Favorite Family Sayings

Did your family have certain sayings that were repeated over and over? Most families do. Those sayings may be the basis of some of our beliefs. If your parents said, "Money is the root of all evil", you may struggle with having money because you believe it is evil. Maybe your mother said, "You kids are driving me crazy". Maybe she was a little bit crazy. If your parents said, "Love begins at home" then you probably feel love when you are home. I believe words have power, and I put up uplifting sayings throughout my home. A friend gave me a poster with the saying, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care".
I still struggle with living this way as I often feel that I know what is best and just wish I could tell people how to live. Then I see that I really don't know everything. Maybe I can give good advice, but first I may need to convince others that I really care about them and want the best to be in their lives. So I post sayings around my home in the hope that I will be able to live my life according to those sayings.
I came across a way to put these sayings in your home within printing out sheets of paper that eventually fade, discolor, and tear. It is through vinyl lettering.
Here is a website with how to start your own business in vinyl lettering.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

Sometimes life goes by so fast. There is so much that needs to be done, that there is little time to stop and think. If you keep a journal or are trying to write your life story, you may find times when you don't have time to write anything or your entries may be very brief. Then there may be times when you can write long entries. Life doesn't seem to be evenly balanced. Even writing a blog, I find myself running out of time and energy to add to it. Then there are more calm times when I can spend a little time thinking and writing. That is the way life is and we need to deal with it. As you write think about the times that were so busy and full. Record the feelings you had during those times--like exhaustion, frustration, excitement. Record the feelings you had during calm times--like peace, gratitude, comfort, boredom, loneliness. The calm times can be the times to make up for what you couldn't do during the busy times. It is a good thing that life isn't always one way or the other. Writing about the different time of our lives can give us much needed perspective.

Purple and White Polka Dot Journal

Purple and White Polka Dot Journal

by Lilleaf

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Get Back Up

Do you ever have plans that you can't follow through on as you want to because of some kind of adversity? For instance I haven't had a cold in over three years, but I caught one this year and I spend a few days sleeping as soon as I would get home from work. There were many things I would have done during that time that I was sleeping, like adding to this website; but I felt sleeping and getting well were more important. Life is full of times when things are difficult and don't go the way we want them to. Perhaps it is a sick family member that we spend our time helping. Perhaps it is repairing something that is broken. Perhaps it is cleaning up after a disaster.
When we record out family's story we may want to remember only the good times. Definitely the good times should be remembered, but the things that were learned from the bad times can be just as valuable to your family. A bout of depression may be difficult to write about, but some years from now a grandchild or great grandchild may be dealing with depression and may be glad to learn what you did to cope with your depression. If you recovered quickly from your depression, they may want to try what you did. If you struggled despite all you tried to overcome the depression, they may know that something else may be necessary to help. Although no two situations are exactly the same and so the solutions may not be the same, it may help to know that some one else struggled with the same problems. So, as you write your story remember to include the difficult times as well as the good times. Record what you learned from both your good and bad experiences.
Think about your ancestors. What kinds of adversity did they have to deal with? What was it like for those who lived during the depression? Maybe you had some ancestors involved in the gold rush. What was it like for them? Maybe some of your ancestors were pioneers. What was it like for them? Maybe some of your ancestors were the first settlers in an area or even a country. What was it like for them? There have been many people who have lived without running water, electricity, indoor bathrooms, a variety and abundance of food, nice clothing, heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. Write about what conditions you ancestors lived in. Cameras, telephones, computers, electricity, cars, books, even the ability to read and write are relatively recent in the history of the world. When writing an ancestor's story, researching history during that time period to find out what things were like would help to add depth and understanding to their story. When you interview relatives for their life stories or other ancestor's stories, remember to ask how the things that were happening in the world around them affected them. If they lived during the depression, were their parents employed or unemployed? During World War II were they affected by rationing or by a family member serving in the war? In the 60's how were they affected by the Civil Rights movement?
We are not alone and unaffected by others around us. What is going on in the world does affect us. The clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the things we have in our home, how we spend our spare time can all be affected by what is going on in the world. Yet each person may choose to not be affected in the same way as others. Perhaps if you are like me you drive a 25 year old car, don't keep up with the latest fashion, don't watch a lot of TV, don't see all the latest movies, yet the new cars, the fashions, television, movies, etc. do affect your life because of how they affect others. Each story will be unique. Not all the veterans of World War II have the same story of their war experiences. Each story is different even though it is about the same war. So write about the uniqueness as well as the commonalities in your family's story.
Sometimes when you are feeling stressed it can help to take a moment and view something uplifting. The video in the next post is one that inspires me. Hope it inspires you too.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Create a Site to Share Your Family Photos and Stories

I came across share sites at yesterday. It is an exciting way to share family photos and stories. You can invite others to add their own photos and stories to your share site. Think of how many photos and stories could be shared this way. Your family photos and stories are most valuable when they are shared.
Create a share site for your family and start sharing more of your family photos and stories.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Celebrations

The start of a new year is often a time of making resolutions and setting out to make positive changes in your life. Writing down your New Year's Resolutions is one way to record your life story. At the end of the year you can look back and see what resolutions you were actually able to keep throughout the year. The goals you have in your life are an important part of your life story.
Another important part of your life story is what you did to celebrate New Year's Eve or Day. Did your family do anything special to celebrate? Are there any particular New Year's celebrations that you remember? What happened and why do you remember it?
My family didn't stay up till midnight to see the new year in. But New Year's Day was a day of new beginnings. My mother wanted to put away all the Christmas Decorations and clean the house so we could start out the new year fresh and clean. Staying up late to see in the new year isn't one of my favorite things to do. I like my sleep too well.
Record what you did for New Year's and let your family know about the traditions you grew up with.