Traditional Christmas

Merry Christmas From my home and family to yours, I would love to wish you a very Merry Christmas! (Just a few days after the fact) I hope the holiday has been everything you needed it to be and that you were blessed by it.

Did you put up a Christmas tree or decorate your home? I’d love to see pictures- drop them in the comments so we can all enjoy them! We put up a Christmas tree and stockings, but we didn’t do the string of lights on our back porch like we have done in year’s past.

Christmas Tree

I enjoyed spending the day with my family and friends and I learned a little something about Christmas traditions, too!

Fruit in Stocking     When asked what Christmas was like for them when they were growing up, during the 1930s and 40s, both my grandparents responded in much the same way- even though they were asked at separate times and not even in the same room as each other.

According to my granddaddy, they were happy with each other ( he had eleven siblings) and they each got an apple, an orange and raisins. Nana said that they did the same thing she was doing (cooking). It is not hard to imagine Nana in the kitchen with her mother and her sister preparing the family meal. When I pressed Nana on the question of what Christmas was like when she was a child, she informed me that they received grapes, an orange and raisins. Both my grandparents said they sometimes had a radio, depending if there were batteries or not. Next time I visit, I am going to need to spend time hunting through the pictures for these radios, as I am sure it will make an interesting find. My grandfather elaborated on this by reminding me that they didn’t have the things we have today (grocery stores), so it was a special treat to get something like that. Oh, yes there was a Christmas tree, unfortunately, I forgot to ask what it was decorated with… Darn it. A visit in the near future is in high demand to sit in the formal living room and go through all of those photo albums, where I am sure a picture of the tree is hiding in the crevices… I hope.

candy cane stocking     It was the same wit my mom and aunt. Both shared that they got fruit and candy canes in their stockings and usually a doll baby or an accessory. I didn’t get a chance to ask my uncle, so unfortunately, I don’t know what kinds of presents the boys received. My mom did say that they would have board games and all of them- there were seven in total-  would play those games together. Ack. As I am writing this, I am realizing all kinds of questions I forgot to ask. I decidedly did not have my journalism hat on on this day… because of this, I cannot, sadly, tell you what kinds of board games they played or even what was the most desired toy of the era or anything like that.

I can tell you the family had a TV (my mom actually sounded offended that I would ask her if they had one) and a favorite show to watch was Red Skeleton. After the reaction I received when I asked about even having a television, I didn’t even bother asking if it was a black and white or color set.

When my siblings and I were younger, we did receive an orange and a candy cane in our stockings, along with little trinkets and bobbles, but the real ‘treasures’ were underneath the tree. We would receive things like Barbies and every imaginable accessory, Cabbage Patch dolls and their accoutrements and must haves. We never really ate the fruit, I distinctly remember my dad sitting at the card table pealing a pilfered orange and cracking some nuts while we oohed and ahhed over the wonderful things Santa had delivered unto us and eventually, the oranges and candy canes faded away. Have there been traditions within your family that have faded to black? Would you ever bring them back? For me, I will leave the oranges to my memories, as my kids don’t really eat them, but I have brought the candy canes back to life without even knowing I was resurrecting a forgotten tradition. Instead of being nestled in stockings, I hang them on my tree and have them on a tray by the front door- a welcoming offering to anyone who comes or goes… (though, I am not certain they will be back next year, as the toddler discovered them this year and probably ate all of them by himself!)

Anyway, I am going to let you get back to your Holiday fun now. I just wanted to pop in and say hello and invite you on a quick trip down memory lane. I’ve already asked you a ton of questions, so I won’t trouble you with more. I look forward to reading about your traditions in the comments.

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And like that record player we got one year from Fisher Price, I will repeat myself again and again… I appreciate likes and shares, so be generous with them, thanks!

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From Work Horse to Show Horse…

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending Mother’s day with my Glory-Glory. To every one else in the family, excepting my sister and brother, she is Go-Go and to you, she is my grandmother (on my dad’s side). I had an awesome time. Sadly though, I was so caught up in having a grand ole time that I didn’t capture the moment. Or any of them. And there were several. She saw my son for the first time in ages, as every time I have visited over the years he has been with his dad or working or otherwise caught up in his busy teenager life and she was able to meet the baby (her great great grandson) for the first time.

Gloria JohnsonGloria Johnson, A.K.A. Glory-Glory, A.K.A. Go-Go, A.K.A. my grandmother. Pictured with the late Roland H. Johnson. Picture taken from family collection.

She gushed over how handsome Kyle had gotten and told him how she just knew he was a hit with all the ladies. She told him that she knew he had ‘a little smarts’ and she wanted him to do something with it… and she even went to the back door and watched him play basketball for a quick minute. She said she was too old to be bothered with a baby… BUT. She sat in her room and he went with her. I could hear him getting into EVERYTHING. Yet, whenever I attempted to collect him and let her rest, she told me to ‘scram’ and let them be. I heard him repeatedly pick up the phone and she allow him to talk to the dial tone to his heart’s content. She even dialed her answering machine so he could leave a message and she called one of her many friends and told her to talk to her great great grand baby because he was just to cute. She shared her food with him.

So, yeah. My children and I were making memories with a lady we absolutely adore.

I hardly ever write about her or her family line, though. Finding those stories are hard. She has no desire to help me in this endeavor whatsoever and her one remaining sibling I have never met and only recently met via Facebook… and honestly, I think she and her children may think I am a bit cuckoo with all the questions I ask. So, there is very little information to even go on to begin with.

This visit with Glory-Glory though, I did something I had never thought to do before. I asked if she had any picture books I could look through. Sure enough, she did. As she directed me to where they were all stored, she said over and over again, “I wouldn’t go through all those pictures if someone gave me a million dollars.” or “Kim, you sure you want to go through all those pictures?” I just smiled and told her I just wanted to look at them.

OH MY GOOD LORD. The wealth of treasure that she has for genealogy/family history girl like me. I took pictures of pictures and obituaries and funeral programs and newspaper clippings until my phone died and I didn’t even get half way through her stash. If I didn’t think it were in bad taste, I would lay claim to these treasures now in the event of her time to be with the Lord in heaven…

Anyway, there I was looking at pictures and I remembered that I had some pictures to show her. So, I tore myself away from the distant past to share with her the not that long ago past…

As I began to show her the pictures of Kaira with her horse on the farm and at her competitions, she let this little tidbit of information slip- “we used to have these great big work horses named, Brownie and Bob and we used to ride them across town.”

Kaira and ButtonsKaira on her horse, Buttons. The picture that gave way to conversations about riding workhorses in Muskogee, Oklahoma way back when…

Wait. What??? I knew that I could not press for information or else she would shut down and the conversation would be over before it had even began. So, instead, I said, “so, you used to ride horses, too?” Honestly, I didn’t know what a workhorse was, so this was actually a legitimate question. She said, “no, not like Kaira. These were great big horses that were used to pull the farm machines. We would just ride them to the other side of town. (Muskogee, Oklahoma circa 1930s and 1940s) Except for that Carol (her one remaining sister). I don’t know if she ever climbed up on those horses… She was kind of prissy. Carol is younger than Glory-Glory by six years.

brown work horseThese are obviously NOT the workhorses my great grandfather had. BUT, they could resemble the ones Glory Glory grew up with. As defined by Dictionary.com, a workhorse is a horse used for plowing, hauling, and other heavy labor, as distinguished from a riding horse, racehorse, etc. Wikipedia further explains that in North America draft horse breeds typically consist of these five breeds:  Belgian, Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire, and Suffolk. Photo credit: http://www.theequinest.com/breeds/shire-horse/

Wow. In those few sentences, I had been given such a wonderful glance into what growing up had been like for Glory-Glory and her siblings. I had learned that they grew up on a farm and this farm was large enough to require the use of workhorses. Does that mean the farm was rather large? I am still digging. I also learned that they had two teams of workhorses- the other team was Floral and … (auto correct in my phone changed whatever I had typed, so now I don’t know the fourth horse’s name). And they did not have a car.

Having a conversation with someone can produce such great information- the kind you may not get if you were only to hand them a piece of paper and say, “answer these questions, please.” Conversing with older members of your family can also change how you research things. For example, it wasn’t until I started trying to understand what exactly a workhorse was that I realized my Glory-Glory entered life just as the Great Depression was coming to a close, but the effects- especially in Muskogee, OK where she grew up- were still widely and greatly felt. I would really love to understand how they were able to afford the luxury of owning and feeding four horses throughout the years of the depression. Researching the area of Muskogee, specifically trying to envision what farms would look like during that time, also gave me a more defined and true understanding of where Muskogee is/was in relation to other areas that my family comes from and makes it easier to understand how husbands and wives may have met and weren’t really traveling as far as I had originally thought they were.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone in your tree or a tree you are working on that changed your research in some way? I would love to hear about it- leave me a comment, telling me all the ins and outs of what you learned and how it changed your searching! As always, please be free with the likes and the shares and thanks for stopping by!

Until next time-

dvnmskm!

***update*** I recently started branching out there and participating in a few blog parties, where different bloggers, like me, submit a post or article or whatever you want to call it- to a specific location and then direct their readers to that location.

blogger potluck.jpgThis particular party was a “how to” potluck party! The requirement being your submission had to detail ‘how you did something’. Please take a look and see how others are getting things done at the Bloggers’ Potluck.