Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

Advent Calendar Challenge – Fruitcake – Friend or Foe?

by Sherry Stocking Kline
December 14th, 2009

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers for today’s Christmas Advent Calendar Challenge!

Fruit Cake – 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?

(Note: you can also post about a “fruitcake ancestor” and use it for Madness Monday!)

We didn’t receive very many fruitcakes when I was growing up…

Just lucky, I guess!

But my mom professed to love them, so occasionally she would buy one.  It usually never got finished, so how much could she actually love them, right?

Me, I tasted one or two, didn’t care for the rubbery candied fruit, and considered myself a Fruitcake hater.

Many years later, after I was grown and working at a federal government farm office the local grain elevator who always gave our office Christmas gifts of one sort or another, usually food or candy, gave us some fruitcakes.

“Oh, great,” I thought,  “They usually give us good gifts, and this year  -  Fruitcake!”

They seemed to be filled with a little extra Christmas Cheer…

Everyone else dived in (except for me) and exclaimed how good it was!   It also seemed they were traveling back to the break table just a little extra often to grab a piece of that fruitcake, and maybe it was my imagination, but they seemed to be filled with a little extra ‘Christmas Cheer,’ too.

Finally, not wanting to miss out on anything I decided to give the fruitcake a one-time try.

Mmmmm?  This can’t be  fruitcake, I thought.  The fruit wasn’t rubbery and tasteless and what in the world was this stuff marinated with?

It wouldn’t have passed the “Southern Baptist” test…

Mmmmm….  Whatever it was, it wouldn’t have passed the teetotaling “Southern Baptist” test that Whitney Clare writes about in her Advent Calendar Challenge!  And whatever it was, it was worth a second piece, and a third.

It was a pretty ‘cheery’ Christmas around there till the fruitcakes were gone, and  doggone it, I never did find out where the elevator bought those fruitcakes ….

Advent Calendar Challenge – Gifts

by Sherry Stocking Kline
December 10, 2009

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for today’s Christmas Advent Calendar Challenge!

Gifts

What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

Today’s prompt is a tie-in with the Smile for the Camera carnival at Shades of the Departed.

What were my favorite gifts?  To receive or to give? Hmmm…

There are several empty places in my family’s circle now, so my Christmas memories are tinged with sorrow as well as joy because I miss those people very much, but there were several gifts that were fun to give, and I remember some I received that gave my little heart joy!

Stick Horses and Cowboy Outfits!

After my nephews came along, most Christmases my folks bought us all something quite similar, and one Christmas when we were all little stair steps, me about seven, and them five and two, we were given the stick horses with the plastic heads and the cowboy and cowgirl outfits to go along with it!

Because we watched Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, HopAlong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, and the Cisco Kid on tv every week we were well-versed in the bang-bang-shoot-em-up outdoor play that included galloping all over our pasture on stick horses to  shoot the bad guys. Of course, we were the white-hatted heroes! My youngest nephew, not quite old enough to keep up, insisted on riding his  ‘horse’ head down, so his mighty steed’s head got drug all over the pasture!

The most difficult Christmas present I ever bought…

The most difficult Christmas present I ever had to buy was the first one I bought for my mom by myself after my dad passed away.  I just couldn’t figure out what to buy.  But I found a grandmother’s charm bracelet, with little boy and girl heads, with the names and birth dates engraved on the little heads.  By that time, Mom had five grandchildren and one on the way, but I remember standing in the store, feeling very lost and very alone, trying to decide between the choices.

One of the most fun presents we ever bought…

One of the most fun presents that we ever bought was for my father-in-law when our children were small. My father-in-law always hoped that someone would give his boys a train set. (I think so he could enjoy it, too!)

So my husband and I picked him out a neat little train set, and as the television commercial says the look on his face was “priceless.”  He set it up in his basement for awhile, and shared it with his grandchildren, and then a few years down the road, when he started spending more time in Texas in the winter, gave it to our children to enjoy.

A Personalized Family Photo Calendar Keeps us All Up to Date!

For the past few years, I’ve e-mailed family members to request family photographs, (whatever they want to send) though the ones where they are fishing, playing softball, and just doing fun things make great collages for the calendar that I make and give to my mom.

I try to focus on a different family group each month, and when possible, feature someone that is having a birthday that month, though in some months, there are several birthdays.

Here is this year’s calendar front, the photograph on the left was taken in 2000, before we lost my brother Gary and my sister-in-law Nancy to cancer in 2001. It shows my mom, with my two brothers standing on the left with their spouses and me on the lower right with my husband. My dad ‘s photo is inset on the right.

Harold and Dorothy Stocking Family

Harold and Dorothy Stocking Family - Standing: Gary "Sox" Stocking, Harold Frederick "Fred" Stocking, Jr., Norman L. Kline. Seated: Sharon Stocking, Dorothy Stocking Barry, Sherry Stocking Kline. Harold Frederick "Jiggs" Stocking, Sr. in oval on the right.

I usually make copies for the rest of the family, complete with all the birthdays and anniversaries.  They all love it!  It’s a great way to help us all keep up with important dates!

There are several places that offer this service…

I bought Broderbund’s calendar creator several years ago, but you can also make calendars several places on the internet, such as at my Heritage Makers’ website, and I believe that Kodak and other places also offer this service.

One good thing about making it with Calendar Creator, and at the Heritage Maker’s website, is that once you get the template set up, complete with birthdays and anniversaries, you just copy and save with a new name for next year, and re-place this year’s photographs with next year’s new ones!

Christmas Advent Calendar – Grab Bag

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 9, 2009

When I was growing up, my Grandma Maud (McGinnis) Stocking lived an hour and a half away in a little town named Cedarvale, Kansas .  And though we went to see her and brought her to see us, it didn’t always happen exactly on Christmas.

So Grandma Stocking would pack up a little package for our family. It was all wrapped up in brown paper with packages inside for each of us, and oh, how I looked forward to that little package!

I watched for the mail man to turn the corner and drive down our little country road and when I saw him coming, I would run down the driveway of our farm to the mail box to say hello and check and see if today was THE day.

When the package came, I would run back up to the house with it and begin badgering and begging my mom to let me open it early. Most of the time, she made me wait at least until closer to Christmas. So then it was time to shake, squeeze, and guess what the package had in it.

The present I remember best is the one she made herself.

I can’t remember every present that Grandma sent, and I don’t remember anything that she sent my folks, but the present I remember best is the one she made for me herself.

It was a crayon apron.  It was a pretty pink, girl-y looking with colored braid stitched on it and stitched into  it were slim little pockets for crayons and each pocket had a colorful crayon in it. (I think there might have been a coloring book, too) It was designed to keep my clothes clean I’m sure, but I loved that little apron.

I was thrilled with it, proud of it, and I wore it and used it for many years.  Finally, one of the ties came lose, and we didn’t instantly repair it. And, I was beginning to ‘outgrow’ the tiny little apron.  For a long time, I left the crayons in the apron, and used it to organize my crayons.

I hope the little crayon apron will be there…

I’m not sure what happened to that little apron, but I hope (and pray) that when I go digging through my attic for the keepsakes I stored there many years ago that the little crayon apron will be there.

From Birthday Gift to Heirloom…

by Sherry Stocking Kline
November 29, 2009

How is it that something becomes an heirloom? Is it the value of the object, the age of the object, or the love inside the object and its history?

One birthday present that stands out is one that I still have. One that is destined to become a hand-me-down heirloom. And one that I still enjoy.

We were in South Dakota, my mom, dad, and I.  It would be our last vacation with my dad, but we didn’t know that then, or at least I didn’t.

We had been to Minnesota to visit family,  my Great-Aunt May Breneman Jones Willey, her son Kenneth Jones and his wife, Lois, and their family, Lawrence, Lynn, Patty, Charles, and Kenny, and we were coming back down through South Dakota, seeing the sights.

My Parents Laughed…

We visited the “dead Presidents” (Mt Rushmore) which was very impressive, went to the Passion Play (the re-enactment of Christ’s life and crucifixion), and I met a girl at the motel that night who was about my age, (soon to be eleven years old) and what was so impressive was this girl had her life already mapped out.

She told me who she was going to marry and that they were going to raise horses together.  I was so impressed (Here I was at eleven still waffling between being a jockey or an archeologist!) and hadn’t even thought yet about who I would marry and what WE would do that I told my folks all about the girl I met on the motel swing set who already knew who she was going to marry.

My parents laughed….

Mom and I Huddled Inside the Car…

The next day we traveled through the National Park where a herd of several hundred buffalo thundered across the road in front of the car right  in front of us. My mom and huddled inside the car while my dad, unafraid, in typical guy “I ain’t afraid of nothin’” fashion stood outside the car and watched.

Before we came home dad took Mom and I to the Black Hills Gold Jewelry store where the jewelry was actually being made.  Dad had promised Mom that when they went to where the Black Hills gold jewelry was made he would buy her a set.  So we went into the store where we could  see people working on the jewelry.

It took them quite awhile, looking at one necklace and then another. Mom tried on one set, and then another and I kept busy watching the workers, peering into the jewelry cases, and watching the necklace and earring fashion show between Mom and Dad.

But I Had My Sights Set on a Cowboy Hat…

Finally, they had the perfect set for Mom. Then they turned to me.  They wanted to buy me a ring for my birthday.

Uh, Oh.  My little soon-to-be  eleven year old heart had its sights set on a cowboy hat. (Did I mention that I was a tomboy?)  I just hadn’t decided if I wanted it to be black hat like the bad guys or a white hat like Roy Rogers yet, but that’s what  I wanted right then, a cowboy hat.

I didn’t have the horse to go with it, but I wanted that, too.  Mom and dad definitely  had other plans.

They wanted me (a tomboy) to pick something elegant…

So we spent some time picking out a ring. They really wanted me to get something fancy, something a little ‘elegant’.  I wasn’t then, nor am I now, ‘elegant.’

I remember them saying, “Look how much longer this ring makes your fingers look.”

I didn’t think a ring was going to help my fingers look long and ladylike too much. My fingers were short and stubby then and they’re short and stubby now.

I picked out a simple gold band with the Black Hills Gold signature pink and gold leaves on it. Simple lines. Very similar to a wedding band, but I liked it. After some time spent showing me lots of fancier rings to try to get me to pick out something larger, longer, and more elegant, they gave in and let me get the one I liked.

Landstrom's Black Hills Gold Ring

Landstrom's Black Hills Gold Ring

They chose it for one of my larger fingers, hoping I could wear it when I was grown, and they chose wisely there. I can still wear it.

It looks almost exactly like this one, except it has more than 30 years of wear. It’s plain and simple, perfect for my size 4 1/2 to 5 short little fingers. It’s still my favorite.

A little over a year later, my father was gone…

My father was only 50 when he passed away. Just a few years later, heart by-passes became standard practice, but they weren’t then.

I wonder now, if he somehow knew, that his time was getting short, and he wanted us to have these special reminders of him.

Years later, I can look at the Black Hills gold ring that we picked out that day, and remember the whole vacation, the people we met, the good times we had, and feel the love of my parents surrounding me.

12-01-09 Author’s note: After posting this article, I found the ring that was nearly like mine, and so have updated the photograph, and added the name of the ring’s creator. My dad didn’t know he was beginning a new family tradition between myself, my mother, and my children that day, but he did.

I do think he may have known his time was getting shorter as by that time he had had heart disease  for more than ten years and wanted us to have something we could remember him by. My mother, treasuring that memory purchased a cross necklace and another ring at different times in my life, all with that first gift in mind.

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