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.