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.

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