Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Advent Calendar – Outdoor Decorations

by Sherry Stocking Kline
December 5th, 2009

GeneaBloggers’ Thomas MacEntee has a neat Advent Calendar Challenge going for Genealogy Bloggers! Today’s challenge is below:

And for those of you who think you can click ahead and cheat, just try it! Thomas has that covered on his calendar, too.

I would remind him, though, that after 12:00 midnight, it is tomorrow, technically it really is…

Outdoor Decorations

Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations?

No farmer that I can recall had Christmas lights in their yard…

I grew up on a farm, and no farmer that I can recall had Christmas lights in their yard, nor did anyone in the tiny town that I grew up near.

Today, it is fairly common to see Christmas lights outlining  tractors and other equipment in a farmer’s front yard (especially antique tractors) and sometimes the big round bales as well!   The decorations are as unique as the owner’s imaginations!

It wasn’t till I hit my teen years that I spent a lot of time in a  slightly larger town, and we began to notice that more and more people were decorating their yards, probably in part due to the Christmas lighting contest that offered  prizes for the best display.

After I married, my husband and I began to take my mother, who positively loves all Christmas lights,  around the towns and sometimes to the Christmas Display “Isle of Lights” on a small island in the middle of a creek in the nearby town of  Winfield, Kansas, where each year new displays are added.

Often the car is full to capacity, Christmas carols are playing on a CD in the stereo, and old and young voices are ooohing and aaaahing at the displays.

You can hear “Look, over there!” and “Isn’t that beautiful…”

Before and after our visit to the “Isle of Lights”, we travel some of the more well-lit streets, searching for more Christmas displays, and you can hear “Look, over there!” and “Isn’t that beautiful…” over the sounds of “Silent Night” and “Silver Bells” on the radio. (Singing along is allowed and encouraged!)

Placing outdoor lights on our home (my husband’s and mine) was something we always talked about, and didn’t do until the coming of the “icicle lights”.  Somehow, those captured our imagination, and we bought strings for ourselves and my mom and up they went, lighting the area around our homes in a beautiful radiant glow, especially on snow-covered ground.

I think the Mountain Genealogist said it best on her Advent Calendar post:

When the sky goes from light to dark on a mid-December’s evening, and there’s a light falling of snow, and I turn on that little strand of lights, my little home suddenly takes on a different look.

Suddenly, it becomes a humble beacon to the celebration of the birth of the One who made this season all that it is!

How glorious is that?

Amen…

Advent Calendar – Christmas Cards

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 4th, 2009

When I was just a little girl, I looked forward each year to my Uncle Frank Stocking’s Christmas card.

It was unique, shaped like a little stocking, with a verse about each member of the family and their travels, triumphs, and sometimes the trials of their life.  I still have most of them, stored away.

Sometimes this little Christmas card was my “show and tell” for school, I was that proud of it!

After I married and had children, Uncle Frank’s example became my inspiration. Nearly every Christmas I drew up a little picture (usually of children in old-fashioned sunbonnet and overalls) to depict my two kids doing something representative of our year, and wrote a poem that reflected the years happenings,  joys, and sorrows.

2001 was a year of incredible sorrow intermingled with small joys and it is that poem that I’ve chosen to share here:

Kline Christmas Card 2001

I want to be a kid again, it’s Christmas time you see.
I want to hang the tinsel on a lop-sided Christmas tree.
I want to lick the frosting bowl and nibble cookie dough.
I want to call up all my friends and Christmas caroling go.

But most of all I want to wish you Peace and Joy and Love.
And thank our Lord for all His blessings and strength from above.
I hope that kids of every age receive their most-longed-for toy.
And find each day filled with love and the season’s Christmas Joy.

There are days that bring us sunshine, while others bring us rain.
There are years that bring us joy, while others bring us pain.
2001 was such a year of sorrow and sadness in our life.
We pray for comfort and healing from life’s sorrowful strife.

Nancy, my brother Fred’s wife and friend lost her cancer’s fight
In the wee hours of the morning on a January night.
Fifty years of marriage, with five children they were blessed.
Nancy’s smile, her laugh, her faith, her courage, all are sorely missed.

We lost my brother, Gary, on Memorial Day’s afternoon.
He was too young, he was so loved, he died much too soon.
His mom, his wife, his daughter, his brother and “step” sons three,
We each and all miss him so very much you see.

Amidst our grief, we pray for leaders and our troops overseas.
We ask the Lord on bended knee for Peace and safety, Please.
We look forward with hope to the year 2002,
And pray for healing of our hearts and joy that comes anew.

Jarrod’s in K.C., and lucky to be working still at Sprint
We’re thankful that his job was not one of those that ‘went.”
And soon wedding bells will ring in February 2002,
When Marya and Marc tie the knot and happily say “I do.”

Norman hopes each plane he inspects is up to Cessna’s best.
Sometimes he flies with the pilots when they run their tests.
Sherry writes for the Wichita Eagle’s magazine “Active Life”
Web design, “The Mayfield Book”, Sherry has an “active life.”

May this your Merriest Christmas be,
May whatever you wish for be under your tree.
And May God hold you safely in His hand,
As you travel around our beautiful land.

Merry Christmas!
Norman, Sherry, Jarrod & Marya

My Christmas card has changed in several ways. I no longer draw the ‘sunbonnet kids’ as our family has expanded.  I now have two adorable granddaughters, and their picture sometimes graces the card’s front.

My oldest granddaughter loves to draw, and I think I will soon be asking her to draw the picture for the front of my card!

Thanks to the inspiration of my niece, I now also include a photo collage with my Christmas cards that I create on my photo software, and so we have a year of our life in word and picture for close family and friends.

Looking back through those cards, it’s easy to see just where we ‘were’ in life, and what was going on each year!

Advent Calendar – December 3 – Christmas Ornaments

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 3, 2009

Thomas MacEntee’s Advent Calendar Challenge can be found at GeneaBloggers here.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries? Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?

There are two ornaments that I remember from childhood as being special, the angel for the top of the tree and the ‘bubble’ lights.

She Bravely Clung to the Top of the Tree…

Our angel was small and short and bless her heart, she bravely clung to the top of the tree year after year, even though her wings became a little tattered, and her robes a little worn.

She often leaned to one side or the other, depending on which way the Christmas tree leaned, but the tree wasn’t done until she was placed on the very top and even though we could have bought a new angel, it wouldn’t have been the same.  It wouldn’t have been our angel.

The beautiful bubble lights came into to our family before I did, (or before I remember anyhow) and they were the first thing to go on the tree each year.

They looked like miniature candles, and the candle part was glass with a colored liquid inside which bubbled up to the top when the light became warm. One by one, the bubble lights quit bubbling, and we replaced them with the newer tiny little twinkling lights, but it wasn’t the same.

I remember stringing both cranberries and popcorn, but as Carol said in “Reflections from the Fence” the cranberries were hard as rocks, and hard to penetrate with a needle” so I believe that was a one-time thing, and there were always the paper chains to bring home from school and add to the tree each year.

Dad Didn’t Care What he Received for Christmas…

We gathered on Christmas Eve to exchange presents, and though my father never dressed up, Dad loved playing Santa.  My dad really didn’t care what he received for Christmas, his joy came from watching his family open the gifts he and mom had bought.

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