Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Christmas!

Mark, Karen, and Amanda Pape, Christmas 1961, 7913 Cedel, Houston, Texas
 
© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Eve

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today (the last day!) is:  December 24 – Christmas Eve.

How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve? Did you attend church services, perhaps a children’s service with a pageant? What about food – was there a special meal or did your family hold an open house so friends and family could stop by?  Share your memories of Christmas Eves gone by.

In 2009-2011, I wrote about Christmas Eve traditions for my parents and in my family of origin.  Last year, 2012, I posted a picture from Christmas Eve 1959.  The one below was taken at Christmastime in 1961 - and it might have been Christmas Eve.  On the back of the photo, in my younger sister Karen's handwriting, it says it was taken at Marian High School (which is now Episcopal High School) in Bellaire (which is surrounded by Houston), Texas.  This was adjacent to what was then the convent for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, of which my aunt is a member.  However, at the time, I think she might have been living at the convent at Incarnate Word Academy in downtown Houston.  We may have been attending a Christmas Eve service there.

I'm to the right in the photograph here, and Karen is to the left.  Behind her is our brother Mark.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.    

Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent Calendar: The Meaning of Christmas - Wishes and Homecomings

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts - and that is the case for December 21, 22, and 23.  Here are the prompts:

December 21 – Christmas Wishes
Some wish for specific things while others help make the wishes of others come true. Most of us probably wish for peace, prosperity and good health. Do you have a special Christmas wish that came true, or that you are still waiting to come true? Have you ever helped others fulfill a wish at Christmas?  Tell us about your own Christmas wishes and your memories of Christmases past.

December 22 – Christmas Homecoming
Families are often far apart at Christmas or have to make special efforts just to spend Christmas together. The Christmas Homecoming can take many forms, even a virtual one via Skype or a phone call. What are your memories of homecomings at Christmas? If you could have any one family member – present or past – come home for Christmas, who would it be and why?  Tell us about Christmas homecomings and your memories of Christmases past.

December 23 – The Meaning of Christmas
If someone dropped out of the sky and was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, how would you explain it to them? Can you put the meaning of Christmas into words? What does Christmas represent to you and is it different than when you grew up or from the meaning it had for your ancestors?  Tell us what Christmas means to you and your memories of Christmases past.

I had a tough time with these three prompts, so I decided to combine them, and just address the parts I highlighted.

For me, the meaning of Christmas is FAMILY.   And that drives the desire for coming home (wherever home - or homes - may be) and the wish that I could be in two (or more!) places at the same time!

Growing up, Christmas was spent with my parents and siblings, my maternal grandmother and step-grandfather, and my maternal aunt.  Often we would also see my maternal grandfather, maternal great aunt, maternal uncle, and the spouses of the latter two.  I remember wishing my paternal grandparents and my aunts and uncles and cousins from that side of the family could be with us, too, but travel from such a long distance (Chicago and places even further north and east) was expensive.

Christmas 1966 at 8015 Sharpview in Houston, Texas
Breathless, December 5, 2007
In my single years as an adult, I'd go home to Houston for Christmas.  My first marriage was to someone from a state far away, to which we moved, and I did not see my family of origin for most holidays for 21 years, from 1984 through 2005.  This was especially hard as some loved ones passed away during that time - I would love to have any or all of them come home for Christmas just one more time!

The love of my life (pictured at left) has three children, and one lives only two hours away.  Being back in Texas, I'm near my family of origin again too - but most of them are three hours away.  Thus the wish to clone myself so I could be in two places at one time!

We typically deal with this issue by visiting with each other at different times during the holiday season.  My beloved is retired, and I'm blessed to be off work the entire week between Christmas and New Years (and generally some time before and/or after, too), and we can be with one family on Christmas Day, and another closer to New Year's Day.  That's the plan for this year, although it will mean missing some members of my family who are also traveling to Austin for Christmas Day, but won't be there later.

My son Eric won't be here for Christmas this year, and that's driven some of the decision to be with Mark's family on Christmas Day.  If Eric were here, I'd want to be sure he saw as many of his blood relatives as possible.  As a child of divorce, he's played the Christmas season shuffle for much of his life, and perhaps that is why he chose this year to stay at his student-housing apartment at graduate school - because he could.

I find I'm missing him more than I expected this year - even more than I did in 2011, when he wasn't here for any part of the break - because at least I knew that year that he was with his dad's family.  I worry about him being lonely this year.  Plus, he was hit in the eye with a racquetball just before the holiday break - and he has to avoid driving (and probably flying) and activities that induce eye strain such as reading or computer work.  I need a third clone to go up to Connecticut!
Eric and me, December 29, 2007
It's rather fitting that we generally place our Christmas tree in front of the wall that is full of family photographs.

This has been a tough holiday season for me.  I injured my shoulder some months ago, and with the pain certain movements produce and a lack of energy (from two hours of exercises per day, and sometimes little sleep due to pain), I did very little decorating this year.  Since Eric was not going to be here, we did not set up a tree, but I also only decorated outside where I could easily reach (so no lights along the gutters - although I now have some names of people who will do this for a fee next year), and I did not get down most of my boxes of indoor decorations.  Doing the Advent Calendar of  Christmas Memories has helped put me in the spirit, as I search for images and stories to respond to the new prompts and differently to the old prompts.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.    

Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Parties

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 20 – Christmas Parties.  

Holiday parties, a neighborhood open house, buffets – all these take place in abundance during Christmastime. Do you throw a party each year or did your family throw parties around Christmas? Any special theme like Ugly Christmas Sweater or perhaps a gift wrapping or cookie decorating party?  Tell us about your best Christmas parties and your memories of Christmases past.

In 2009-2011, I wrote about and included pictures of Christmas and New Year's parties I attended 1976-1980In 2012, I wrote about a party for my parents in Chicago at Christmastime, 1953, after they got engaged.  (I also wrote about an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest at a staff party at work).

This year, I'm writing about the annual party my book club has in December.  The Third Tuesday Book Lovers don't discuss a book that month, but we have a little get-together with snacks and sweets (and wine) and a gift exchange.  Here we are right after eating and just before the exchange:


The gift exchange one of those games where you wrap the gifts, draw numbers, pick one, or "steal" one that someone before you has already opened. I actually HATE these games, except that in ours, the gift must be a book, and it cannot be one we've ever read in book club (and we have a list of all the books the group has read since 1999). Our game was pretty mild this year; there was no stealing - although I can tell you that if the book that was picked fourth had been picked before me rather than after (I picked third), I would have stolen it!  Here is a picture of all of the books:



© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.   

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Gifts

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 19 – Christmas Gifts
 
Christmas is a time to give gifts to family members, loved ones and friends as well as neighbors. What is your Christmas gift giving routine? Do you go all out with wrapping paper and ribbon? What types of gifts do you typically give? And what was the best gift you ever received for Christmas?  Tell us about Christmas gifts and your memories of Christmases past.

I wrote about some of my family's gift-giving routines in previous years when I wrote about AM Christmas and PM Christmas growing up.   My new favorite gift to give is a Blurb.com BookSmart® blog-to-book!  In 2011, I made two of these last year for my parents (since I had two years worth of posts from this blog at that time).  Last year, 2012, I made just one, with one year's worth of my posts (that are relevant to them).  I must have written a lot in 2013, as I had enough posts to make two books, one for Dad (with posts primarily related to his ancestors and relatives), and one likewise for Mom, that I will also give to her sibling, my aunt Sister Jean Marie.  Check out the previews (of the first 15 pages of the 92-page books) below:



© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.    

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Baking

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 18 – Christmas Baking.  

In addition to Christmas cookies, many families prepared special, once a year treats to share with others. Popcorn balls? Fudge? Carmel corn? What do you remember about these dishes and the activity of making them? Share recipes if you have them or just share your memories of making Christmastime foods.  Tell us about your special Christmas foods and your memories of Christmases past.

In my post about holiday foods from the past four years, I talked about the German coffee cake (a Streuselkuchen) I make, from a recipe that was taught to me by my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Massmann Pape, back in the 70s. She learned it from her mother or grandmother, I can't remember which.  I'm not going to share the recipe (it's a family secret), but I do have some pictures of the process.



Streuselkuchen is best made with fresh cakes of yeast (not the dry "activated" stuff, although it's getting harder to find cake yeast) and the dough rises three times. The streusel is a mixture of brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, and real butter, with either some grated orange and lemon rind or some cinnamon. It takes all day but generally makes 6-8 coffee cakes depending on the weather (sunny dry days produce more coffee cake). My dad gets at least a couple for part of his Christmas present, and most of the rest go to other family members in Austin. 

Above are the second and third risings of the dough, which occur in a barely-warmed oven (for the second rising) and covered with tea towels on a table near a sunny window (for the third rising) respectively.  (The first rising is the creation of the sponge, which also occurs in an oven).  At left is a photo of the finished products from last year (made Christmas Eve), right out of the oven after baking.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Stories

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today (a new one this year) is:  December 17 – Christmas Stories

Whether it is "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens or "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Suess, we read or heard special stories at Christmastime. What is your favorite story and who wrote it? Do you have a tradition of reading certain stories each year at Christmas?  Tell us about your favorite Christmas stories and your memories of Christmases past.

Too many stories to list!  This is one of those prompts that, like favorite tree ornaments (or ornaments with stories behind them), it would be easy to write a whole series.

I don't remember books from my own childhood so much as I remember books I read to my own offspring about 20-25 years ago.  One that I still have in my Christmas box is this one, The Starlight Bride, written and illustrated by Paul Owen Lewis and published in 1988, when Eric was two.

This book isn't really about Christmas, but it is set during Advent - which right there makes it rather unique for children's books!  A prince must marry before taking over the kingdom from his old father the king, and (as in Cinderella), noble women from the surrounding area are invited to come and stay the month of Advent, during which time the prince (Bachelor style) interacts with each of the ladies in a variety of social environments.  When it comes time to make a choice, though, he cannot make up his mind.  He asks God to give him a particular sign to indicate the right woman.

On the book jacket, Lewis says the book was based on a friend's dream, "in which she saw me with an elderly man in a courtyard surrounded on three sides by little houses with different-colored doors.  At each we knocked, and each opened to reveal a different young woman who invited us in to visit.  The dream fascinated me, and I couldn't help but see it as a story of father and son, or King and Prince, seeking the perfect mate.  Reflecting on my own experiences and desires, I projected myself into the scene and the story practically wrote itself."

This beautiful book has a lovely message and gorgeous illustrations, full of rich, vibrant color.  I especially like the border designs around the main picture on each page. I also like the fact that the story is set in a place that does NOT have snow at Christmastime.  For a girl who grew up in a Gulf Coast climate, that is important!

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Travel

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 16 – Christmas Travel. 

“Over the river and through the woods” as the song goes . . . Christmas time can often mean travel home or meeting up with family at a special destination. Do you remember traveling back home for Christmas? Were there any trips that standout in your memory? What methods of travel have you used to make the trip home?  Tell us about your Christmas travel and your memories of Christmases past.

Growing up, Christmas was always at our family home in Houston.  In 2006 through 2009, we went to Austin; to McKinney in 2010.  In 2011 we stayed home in Granbury, visiting some of my family at my brother's ranch near San Saba a few days after Christmas, and to Mark's daughter's in McKinney a few days after New Year's Day.  In 2012, we went to Austin for Christmas and the day after.  We usually travel by car.

In the first full week of the new year 2014, though, we will go on a cruise.  This will be the third January cruise for us.  Here are a couple holiday-related photos from our trip last year.

Above:  The Christmas tree outside the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, January 3, 2013.

Left:  A holiday decoration in Cozumel, Mexico, on January 9, 2013.  Rough seas caused us to miss a port of call, Costa Maya, earlier that day, so we arrived in Cozumel the evening before we were supposed to arrive.  Our ship (the Disney Magic last year) docked at the Punta Langosta pier downtown, so it was very easy to walk off the ship and right into the plaza where I snapped this (rather blurry) photo before we had authentic Yucatan specialties at Casa Denis.  Breathless had Cochinita Pibil (Mayan pork) and I had sopa de lima, a soup made with a mixture of fresh vegetables and chicken which has been marinated in lime juice.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.
 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Ornaments

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 15 – Christmas Tree Decorations

Do you have unique decorations that you use each Christmas? How did you get them or were they passed down to you from family members? Do you have certain traditions surrounding Christmas decorations such as purchasing one from every state or country you visit? Describe your favorite decorations!  Tell us about your Christmas decorations and your memories of Christmases past.

As empty nesters, we're now in downsizing mode when it comes to a Christmas tree.  Last year I started going through my ornaments (I've written about a few in the past), to figure out which ones I wanted to keep and which ones I am ready to pass on to the offspring.  In the process, I've been photographing the ornaments, in hopes of doing some sort of series in a future December on just this prompt!

One ornament with an interesting story is this one.  It's a painted wooden ornament picturing a (very old-style) microcomputer.  I believe this was part of a set of wooden ornaments my sister Karen gave to me for my first Christmas in my new job and apartment, out on my own, in 1979.

You'll notice that this ornament is pretty beat up.  That's because the bird got hold of it.

The bird was a bare-eyed cockatoo named Genius, or Gene (or Jean - we weren't sure if it was a boy or a girl) for short.

The ex-husband acquired this bird in July 1995.  My son Eric had just turned nine and was crazy about Gene - and Gene was crazy about (and with) Eric.  They spent a lot of time clowning around, as can be seen in these two photos from late 1995.

Bare-eyed cockatoos are pretty smart birds, and can learn to talk a little bit.  In fact, the favorite thing for this bird to do was to mimic me calling "Eric!"  Eric also taught him to say, "cockatoo's a pretty bird," although sometimes it came out sounding like "cockatoo's a shitty bird" - which was also true, at least in the amount of fecal matter it produced.

Anyway, Eric let Gene get a little too close to the Christmas tree that year, and the computer ornament was hanging a little low, so Gene started using his powerful beak to grab at it.  I'm surprised it wasn't more damaged than this.

Eric also loved and loves computers, and his first one (an Apple IIe) looked a lot like this ornament - so guess who gets this one?

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.
 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Cookies

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 14 – Christmas Cookies.

Any other time of the year, a cookie is a cookie – even homemade ones. But during Christmas, well a cookie is a special treat. Whether it is a Snickerdoodle or a Peanut Butter Blossom or perhaps decorated Spritz cookies, we all have special memories about Christmas cookies.
Tell us about your favorite Christmas cookie (and share a recipe please!) as well as your memories of Christmases past.

MMM, cookies!  Recipes for three of my favorites, and a picture of one of them (Pecan Puffs) are in my posts for this prompt for 2009, 2010, and 2011The Chocolate Swirl cookies are pictured in my 2012 post, in some of my collection of decorative holiday tins.  Here's a picture of the Lemon Bars:

Lemon Bars / Sally / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas at School

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 13 – Christmas at School

A Christmas pageant, a Secret Santa gift exchange, or a concert singing Christmas carols. There are so many memories of Christmas activities at school that they could fill a book. How did your school celebrate Christmas each year? Were there activities that also involved parents or neighbors?
Tell us about school activities during Christmas and your memories of Christmases past.


I've written about stuff I did in school for Christmas in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and in 2012, about something Eric made in school, in 1993 or 1994.  Here is a program from a winter concert in 1999, when Eric was in the orchestra in eighth grade (he played the cello):


 © Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.   

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent Calendar: Food Gifts

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 12 – Fruitcake - Friend or Foe?

So what side of the tin are you on? Do you love fruitcake or despise it? Do you have a favorite recipe or favorite kind of fruitcake? If you are in the “no” column, do you politely refuse a gift of fruitcake or do you regift it or even recycle it as a door stop or food for the birds?  Many people are passionate about fruitcake and its role during Christmas time. Tell us all about your like or dislike of fruitcake and your memories of Christmases past.

OK, even when I posted on this topic in the past (2009-2011 and 2012), I talked about OTHER food gifts.  I HATE fruitcake, and people know that well enough not to give it to me!

Here is a picture of another food-related Christmas activity - members of Breathless' family decorating a gingerbread (or graham cracker) house:
Kim, Luke, and one of the twins (Adam/Drew) decorate a gingerbread house, November 27, 2008

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas at Church

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 11 – Christmas at Church

There are a variety of activities at Church during Christmastime, and they can vary based on your denomination or church. From the lighting of the Advent Wreath to Midnight Mass or Christmas Eve church services, for many, church is a central focus of the Christmas holiday....Tell us about if and how you incorporate church activities into your Christmas celebrations and your memories of Christmases past.
 
In 2009, 2010, and 2011, I wrote about Advent and nativity scenes.  Last year, 2012, I wrote about Chrismons and Jesse Trees.

I don't have much to add to this topic right now, so I am posting a picture of the Holy Family statue outside the Holy Family Parish Center of my parents' former parish, St. Mary's in Fredericksburg, Texas.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Traditions

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 10 – Christmas Traditions.

So many of us have family traditions related to Christmas that we learned as children and we still keep to this day. Do you know how your traditions started – is there a “backstory” to each one? What about starting new traditions – how do you start and then keep the tradition going? Are there any traditions which you disliked and that you refuse to keep?  Tell us about your family’s Christmas traditions and your memories of Christmases past.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, I wrote about my dad's family celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6, and lighting the candles in an Advent wreath my son made.  In 2012, I wrote about a new tradition for me--listening to a recording of myself and the choir I was in singing Handel's Messiah - back in 1987.

Here's an idea for a tradition I'd like to start - maybe when I have (little) grandkids (again): Instead of a paper Advent calendar, or one with pockets or containers for candy or little gifts, how about an Advent calendar of books to read?

photo far left from My Little Bookcase; photo above from Here Come the Girls
 
Buy or borrow at least 24 holiday-themed picture and/or chapter books (more if you want to celebrate the REAL Advent, which sometimes starts as early as November 27), and wrap each one up.  You might do something like the pictures here, and stack them up in a tree shape, or stand each book up like a forest of  little trees on a table or mantle.

If you are like me, you have a stash of favorite holiday books that sit in a box most of the year.  You can recycle those, borrow some from the library (just be sure to get them back on time), and pick up new ones at garage sales and thrift stores (like your Friends of the Library book sale?).  I'll write about some suggested titles in an upcoming post.

Each day, pick a book to read (either number the packages in the order you want to go, or choose randomly).  You could also do this (with fewer books) as a 12 Days of Christmas activity between Christmas Day and Epiphany.  If you need more ideas, check my Pinterest board!

photo above from 365 Great Children's Books; photo below from Reading Confetti

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. - See more at: http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com/preview-advent-calendar-christmas-memories-2013/#sthash.yWHp32mQ.dpuf
The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.  
“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.” - See more at: http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com/preview-advent-calendar-christmas-memories-2013/#sthash.yWHp32mQ.dpuf

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Crafts

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 9 – Christmas Crafts

There’s a movement towards making items for Christmas gifts or even for Christmas decorating. Have you ever made something by hand related to Christmas? What was the item, how was it made and what did you do with the finished product? What about other family members – was or is there anyone who excels at hand-crafted items and giving them as gifts during Christmas?  Tell us about how you do Christmas crafts and your memories of Christmases past.

This is a new prompt for this year!  Although for me, it does tie in with a previous prompt about Christmas stockings, as the ones I've written about were all homemade.

Like Christmas shopping, though, Christmas crafts are something else for which I have little ability.  However, my mother and sister are very talented seamstresses.  One of them made this bells door decoration for me many years ago.  I still hang it up every year:



© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.   

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Shopping

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 8 – Christmas Shopping.

For many of us, the focus of the Christmas season isn’t on “things” but on family and friends. Still, we like to give presents – large and small – to those we love. Do you shop during Christmastime or do you shop much earlier in the year to get it out of the way? Have you seen a change in your shopping habits as you’ve gotten older? Do you shop online? Do you participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday activities? What was Christmas shopping like for your family and ancestors?  Tell us about how you do Christmas shopping and your memories of Christmases past.

I've written about what Christmas shopping was like in my family of origin in previous years (2009, 2010, 2011)Last year (2012), I wrote about some cool gift ideas I saw among the exhibitors at the 2012 Texas State Genealogical Society conference.

To be quite frank - I HATE Christmas shopping - because I hate shopping, period.  My favorite part is wrapping up the few gifts I do give, preferably in the shiniest bags and papers possible, so there are lots of reflections on them from the lights on the tree:


presents under the Christmas tree - December 24, 2012

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas TV & Movies

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 7 – Christmas Television and Movies

Whether it is the movie It’s A Wonderful Life or A Charlie Brown Christmas on the telly, what is your favorite television program or movie? What are your memories of first seeing it as a child and did your family have certain traditions related to the show or movie? Are there different versions (such as The Christmas Carol) and have you found modern favorites?  Tell us about your favorite Christmas television program or movie and your memories of Christmases past.

This is a new prompt for this year!

Growing up, I loved all those animated Christmas specials that came out in the mid-1960s:  A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962), and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), which used the cool-to-me stop-motion technique.  I can remember waiting for them to be shown once each season on TV - now of course, you can find networks that play them numerous times during the holidays.


I think it was the voices and/or music that made these memorable for me:  Jim Backus (the millionaire Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island) as the nearsighted Mr. Magoo (playing Scrooge), Burl Ives as the narrating Sam the Snowman in Rudolph (and singing "Holly Jolly Christmas"), and Boris Karloff as the narrator and Grinch.  I was surprised to learn that Karloff did NOT sing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," as I always thought, instead, it was an uncredited Thurl Ravenscroft (also the voice of Kellogg's Tony the Tiger).  Such a wonderfully deep basso profundo voice!  Charlie Brown Christmas featured the wonderful jazz music of Vince Guaraldi that I love.  I can't listen to "Linus and Lucy" without wanting to dance like the kids dance to Schroeder's playing, or hear "Skating" without thinking of this Christmas special.

My all-time favorite Christmas movie is, of course, It's a Wonderful Life.  It's also about the only one I can legally use images from in this blog, because Republic Pictures, the original copyright owner and producer, neglected to renew its copyright in 1974, putting its images in the public domain (copyright issues with this film are complicated, though).  This movie never fails to make me cry.

Screenshot of Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed & Karolyn Grimes (playing George, Mary, and Zuzu Bailey) in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent Calendar: Santa Claus

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 6 – Santa Claus.
Today is the Feast of Saint Nicholas and the origin of Santa Claus. What are your memories of Santa Claus and waiting for him to come at Christmas? What does Santa mean to you today and how do you pass along that meaning to family and to others?  Post your best Santa story and your memories of Christmases past.

My post for this prompt in 2009, 2010, and 2011 included pictures with Santa for me and my sister Karen, and my son Eric.  Last year, 2012, I included some Santa pictures for my three youngest siblings.

This year's picture is from 1994 - my youngest sister Mary holding a little Santa Claus, our nephew Nicholas (who is about five months old in this picture)

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Recipes

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 5 – Christmas Recipes

The smell of cookies baking in the oven or perhaps mulled wine on the stove top. What are your favorite recipes during Christmastime? Are they different than the Christmas foods your mother made? What about your ancestors – what were their favorite recipes and Christmas foods? Share your favorite recipe and the story behind it.  Post your favorite Christmas recipe and your memories of Christmases past.

Sister Jean Marie Salad, aka "Pink Stuff," from Thanksgiving 2010
This is a little different than the previous prompt of Holiday Foods, so I'm going to pull a piece out of that one for this post.  There are upcoming prompts for both Christmas Cookies AND Christmas Baking, and most of our recipes and special foods fall in that category.

The one non-baked dish we have (at every family gathering) is something I call "Sister Jean Marie Salad," for my maternal aunt (Jo Ann Guokas) who I think originated the recipe.
 
Here's the recipe:
Mix together:
  • 3 regular size cans of fruit cocktail, drained
  • 12 oz. carton of Cool Whip
  • 3 oz. package of Jello crystals, any flavor*
  • 48 oz. of small curd cottage cheese
*It's typical in my family to use a red jello like cherry or strawberry, hence the salad turns out pink. The more common name for this salad, in my family, is "the pink stuff" and my sister Karen typically makes it for family gatherings.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Lights

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

The prompt for today is:  December 4 – Christmas Lights.
Some families string up a few lights each year while others go nuclear and are destined to force their neighbors into a brown out situation. Did your family put up lights and outdoor decorations around Christmas time? What about the neighbors? And was it a favorite family activity to drive around to look at Christmas lights? What about any local attractions such as parks, zoos and the like which put up displays of lights and outdoor decorations? Write about anything related to Christmas lights and your memories of Christmases past.

As noted in previous years (2009-2011), I grew up with subtle and understated outdoor decorations, and have continued that with my own homeLast year (2012) I wrote about decorations in my town of Granbury, Texas, which puts up displays on the city hall grounds, the adjacent city park, and the nearby newly-acquired Langdon Center, featured in that post.

Lots of small towns in Texas set up massive displays of lights and outdoor decorations - here are some from just a couple towns:

Walkway of Lights on Lake Marble Falls in Lakeside Park in Marble Falls, Texas, December 2010
Christmas display at Hamilton Creek Park in Burnet, Texas, December 2010


The photos in this Animoto video (set to a jazzy instrumental version of "Deck the Halls") were mostly taken at the Walkway of Lights along Lake Marble Falls in Lakeside Park in Marble Falls, Texas; some were taken at Hamilton Creek Park in nearby Burnet.

(Animoto originally posted December 17, 2010)

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.
 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Music

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, in some cases I'll simply re-post, while in others, I will link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.  Today's is a re-post - because I don't think I can improve upon what I wrote last year.

The prompt for December 3 – Christmas Music

Christmas carols, church music and even more modern novelty songs are all a big part of our Christmas memories. What songs were your favorites as a child and are they still your favorites or do you have new ones? What about your parents or family members – were there certain songs or types of Christmas music played during the season? And how would you describe the type of Christmas music you like?  Write about anything related to Christmas music and your memories of Christmases past.
 


Although I had a record player, I can't recall if my parents had one - probably not with five boisterous kids around to bump it and scratch the records. We probably listened mostly to the radio, and mostly to vocals by popular singers of the day. When I got a CD player sometime in the 1980s, some of my first Christmas CDs were collections of these performances.

When I was six, the Catholic Mass was still said in Latin, and I still love to hear "Adeste Fideles" and my favorite, "Veni, Veni Emmanuel".

I don't remember going caroling as a child, but when my son was little, I went with a church group to various nursing homes in the area. My church choir did a performance of Messiah, and somewhere along the line I attended The Nutcracker ballet.

I don't think I could name just one favorite Christmas song. Rather, I have favorite Christmas albums. Most of them are instrumentals, and the 20 I like best are pictured just above. I like Narada and Windham Hill collections, Tingstad and Rumbel, Mannheim Steamroller, acoustic guitars, saxophones, dulcimers and harps, and old-fashioned music boxes.

The good thing about instrumentals is that I can stand hearing them a lot over the longer-and-longer Christmas season. Not so with the vocalists. I pretty much limit listening to them to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I only have six favorite albums, pictured below. In some cases I bought the album primarily for one particular song on it (Kathy Mattea's "Emmanuel" and the King's Singers "Gaudete," for example). The Carpenters and The Moody Blues are among my favorite groups (and if Gordon Lightfoot had ever done a Christmas album, I would have bought it). As for Bing Crosby - well, that reminds me of what my family listened to when I was growing up. I especially love his duets with the Andrews Sisters.


(This was originally published December 21, 2009; repeated December 21, 2010; and revised slightly December 21, 2012)

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Cards

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, rather than simply re-post, I'm going to link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

That's the case for today's prompt for December 2 – Christmas Cards:

Do you still send Christmas cards or has electronic communication taken the place of this tradition? Do you remember sending Christmas cards as a child – making a list, sending out your family’s cards and then checking the mailbox for cards sent to your family? How did your family display the cards?  Write about anything related to Christmas cards and your memories of Christmases past.

I still send real paper Christmas cards every year - in fact, I'm working on them as I write this post!

I wrote about my and my family's card traditions in 2009 and 2011, and also showed some old cards from Mark's parents and paternal grandmother.  In 2010, I wrote about a Christmas card from my relative, the architect Ewald T. Pape (1894-1976) that was in the collection of his first cousin, my great aunt, Martha Pape Bleidt (1890-1981).  Last year, 2012, I posted a photo greeting card of my cousins Terrie, Donna, Judy, and Bobbie from around 1970.


Today I have another old photo greeting card, this time of my maternal grandmother, Sara Melzina Wolfe Guokas Archibald (1907-1997), and her second husband, Wallace Franklin "Archie" Archibald (1896-1970).  The card has to be from 1960 or earlier, as Archie died June 26, 1970.  It's likely to be after 1945, as that is the year they got married.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.


The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Calendar: Christmas Trees (and Christmas Cousins - an update)

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts, and the sequence has changed for some old prompts used in previous years.  For the latter, rather than simply re-post, I'm going to link to the older posts, and - when applicable - post about something else that's at least somewhat related.

That's the case for today's prompt for December 1 – Christmas Trees

What are your memories of your family putting up the Christmas tree? Many of us come from different traditions: some people won’t put up their tree until after Thanksgiving or even on Christmas Eve? Some like live trees and actually go out into the woods to cut their own while others prefer the convenience of an artificial tree.  Write about anything related to Christmas trees and your memories of Christmases past.

I wrote about putting up our always real, always after Thanksgiving trees in my post for this date in 2010 (and 2009).  Last year I wrote about trees on the courthouse square in my town of Granbury, Texas.


In 2012 I wrote about a Pape family Christmas tree circa 1913-1917, with what I thought was a picture of my paternal grandfather Paul Robert Pape (1896-1970), his six siblings, and six of his first cousins who had recently immigrated from Germany.  I call it the "Christmas Cousins" picture.

That picture was provided to me by Mary Kay, a descendant of one of the cousins (Maria), with input from her mother, my dad, and Lawrence, the son of another cousin, as to who was who.  Back in February I did another post identifying who we thought was who.

Karl James Jacob Lorenz Pape, 1889-1958,
in the 1910s, courtesy of Joe Bates
Just a few months ago, in August 2013, I was contacted by another distant cousin, Joe, who sent me a picture of his grandfather Karl Pape, in his 20s, at left.

After studying this picture, I now feel pretty certain that the tall man in the back row of the Christmas Cousins picture (below) is Karl James Jacob Lorenz Pape (1889-1958), and not his first cousin, my great uncle Otto Richard "Dick" Pape (1898-1972).  The tall man looks like he might be wearing glasses, just like Karl.

This would also mean that the man in the mustache in the first row that I originally identified as Karl is probably his father Lorenz Pape (1862-1932), as Mary Kay and her then-85-year-old mother originally thought.  Mary Kay's mom would be more likely to remember her grandfather and what he looked like.


So, where is great Uncle Dick?  My guess is that this picture may have been taken in 1917 rather than 1913.  Here is how old everyone would have been at Christmas that year:

Lorenz: 55
Karl and Clara: 28
Martha: 27
Joseph: 26
Rhea and Maria: 25
Lee and August: 24
Ewald: 23
Paul and Nellie: 21
Dick: 19
Walter: 17

Clara had been living in Iowa since 1912, but may have come home for Christmas.  The first of these cousins to marry was Joseph in April 1918, and I think it would have been less likely for him to be around for a Pape family Christmas after that.  Dick's World War I draft registration card shows him living in New Liepzig, North Dakota, by September 12, 1918, but perhaps he had already moved out west by Christmas 1917.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Sentimental Sunday: Happy Blogiversary to Me!


Four years ago today, on December 1, 2009, I started this blog! The photo above is from a Gresham family birthday: either Mark's in 1945, Ann's in 1948, or June's in 1956.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Those Places Thursday: "Uncle Lee's house in Wilmette"

While writing about the Wilmette, Illinois, townhouse my paternal grandparents lived in briefly in the mid-1950s, I decided to see if I could find (via Google Maps Street View) the long-time Wilmette home of my paternal great Aunt Gret and Uncle Lee, Leo John Pape (1893-1979) and Margaret Anna "Gretchen" Reis Pape (1886-1947).

The house was located at 210 17th Street in Wilmette, and Lee and Gret lived there from at least 1927 (according to the Evanston City Directory, page 843, which included Wilmette).  The 1930 Census shows a couple of lodgers, 63-year-old public school teacher Marion A. Long and 65-year-old insurance saleswoman Emma V. Hubbard, both born in Maryland, living with them in the large house.

After Gret's death in 1947, Lee invited some of his single and widowed siblings (including Walter Pape and Martha Pape Bleidt) to live with him, until he died in 1979.  Only Aunt Martha outlived him - she moved to a retirement home after Lee's death. 

The house was built (according to real estate records) somewhere between 1923 and 1926.  Here is a photo of the house from about 1947, taken by a member of the Bleidt family (Charles, his wife Martha Pape Bleidt, and children Mary Jane and Jack - whose godparents were Lee and Gret):

1947? "Uncle Lee's house in Wilmette" 210 17th St., Wilmette, IL - photo courtesy Bill Parker

My father described the house's setting a little when reminiscing about a bicycle trip he and Jack made to the house:
They owned two adjoining lots with the house and garage on one lot. Aunt Gret had a huge well-cultivated garden which occupied most of the other lot. They grew lots of greens like lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, etc., and cooking vegetables like potatoes, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, etc. We had fun picking some of the ripe vegetables with her. I really liked the radishes. She also gave us some to take home.
The second lot, with the garden, is apparently to the left of the house in the photograph above.

This next picture, which shows a car in the driveway on the other side of the house, also gives a view of the house next door.  This was helpful when trying to pinpoint the house in Google Maps Street View, as the addresses in that tool aren't always quite accurate.
Jack Bleidt - 1947? "Uncle Lee's house in Wilmette" 210 17th St., Wilmette, IL - photo courtesy Bill Parker
Here is Uncle Lee and Aunt Gret's house, with its white stucco neighbor to the right, as they appeared in about August 2011:


And here is the house as it appeared in about March 2013.  The vacant lot to the left is gone, with a house in its place that was apparently built in 1966. 


This 2,655 square foot house on a 6,400 square foot lot recently sold, on August 12, 2013, for $642,000.  It was described (abbreviations spelled out by me) as follows:

Lovely,sunfilled traditional home w/natural woodwork and charm throughout. Large living room with gas fireplace. Kitchen with pantry and breakfast room. Formal dining room with built-ins. 1st floor family room or 5th bedroom with new full bath. Master bedroom with fireplace. 3 additional bedrooms plus sitting room and bathroom. Open unfinished basement . Lots of storage. Nice back yard and 2 1/2 car garage.

The photos of the inside (no longer available online) were gorgeous.  It's probably been remodeled and refurbished since Uncle Lee and Aunt Gret lived there, but with the basic bones of the house, there was a lot to work with.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.