Whatever traditions my ancestors may have had have long since been lost or forgotten. We can only guess at how they celebrated Christmas or other holidays. I'm sure though, that family members gathered 'round the table full of food, much the same as we do today. A special meal prepared for all to enjoy. Gifts were given, whether bought at a store or hand-made. The things inside the wrapped boxes have certainly changed with the times, but the thoughts behind the gifts are still the same.
I don't think that any of the things my family does at this time of year are really any different than what many families do. We have a family dinner that seems to get smaller in number with each passing year. The little kids have grown up and have families of their own. Things to do, places to go, people to see. It's virtually impossible to get everyone together in one place anymore. My mom still puts up her Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving and it stays up until New Year's Day. We don't make a lot of cookies or candy anymore. Gifts are still exchanged, though with only a few people.
Last year, Thomas MacEntee at Destination: Austin Family conceived the idea for a bloggers Family History Advent Calendar, and, with encouragement from Jasia, hosted a 24-day Carnival of contributions from the genea-blogosphere on various Christmas Holiday topics. For various reasons, I didn't contribute every day, but listed below are the posts for the topics that I wrote about.
- Christmas Music - Christmas Music. What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?"
- Fond Memories - Christmas and Deceased Relatives. Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?
- Christmas Shopping - Christmas Shopping. How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?
- Christmas Stockings - Christmas Stockings. Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it?
- Christmas Church Services - Christmas Church Services. Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?
- Christmas at School - What did you do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?
- Christmas is Here! - Christmas Grab Bag. Author’s choice! Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!!
- Fruitcake - Friend or Foe? - Fruitcake – Friend or Foe? Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes? Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake? Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?
- Christmas and the Arts - Christmas and the Arts. Did your family attend any special events or performances during the holidays?
- In a time of need - Charitable / Volunteer Work. Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Were you able to make the holidays special for someone less fortunate?
- Holiday Travel - Holiday Travel. Did you travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?
- A Christmas Gift to Remember - Christmas Gifts. What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give?
- Holiday Parties - Holiday Parties. Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?
- Christmas Cookies - Christmas Cookies. Did your family make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?
- Grandpa's Candy - Christmas Grab Bag. Author’s choice! Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!!
- Santa Claus - Santa Claus. Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?
- Outdoor Decorations - Outdoor Decorations. Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating?
- Christmas Cards - Christmas Cards. Did your family send them? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards?