Archive for the ‘Christmas Memories’ 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 – Other Traditions…

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 11, 2009

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

December 11 – Other Traditions

Did your family or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions form their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?

My Stocking ancestors came from England in the 1630′s, and while they inter-married with those of Scottish and/or Irish descent as well as Native American, whatever traditions any of them might have brought with them have been long lost, or interwoven with more recent American ones.

On my mother’s side, I’m still trying to knock down the brick wall that a man named Jones who marries a woman named Smith creates.  I’ve read in a book  that speaks about our Smith family history that we have Welsh and French on that side.

For my family, it was all about Christmas Eve…

For my family, wherever the tradition came from or whether it began with my parents, Christmas was all about Christmas Eve. We gathered together, Dad, Mom, my youngest brother (still older than myself), my oldest brother and his growing family, and we exchanged presents.  And we all knew that the presents that night came from our parents and grand-parents, not from Santa.

But the Christmas Stocking was what held the magic! It came from Santa himself!

Here is an excerpt from mountaingenealogy.blogspot.com that sounds like my experience, too!

“And we aren’t talking about the rather large, decorative stockings of today. These were literally their stockings [socks] that they wore on a daily basis.”

We didn’t have a fireplace, nor even a wood stove, so we pinned the stockings to the couch, usually the side nearest to the door, as that was where the jolly old elf was believed to come into our home!

The stockings that we hung had to be our own!

The stockings that we hung had to be our own! So the presents that we got when we were little were, well, little!

I remember getting tiny little animals that I loved to play with, and most often they were tiny little horses with cowboys and Indians to ride them and sometimes there was candy in the toe, and a barrette for my long honey-blonde braids.

And the good thing was, that as I grew, the socks grew, and the presents became bigger!

How exciting it was to ‘graduate’ from not-so-stretchy little Buster Brown cotton socks to extra stretchy (and longer) bobby socks!  Much more room for goodies!

My children used to ‘cheat’…

I continued the hanging of the Stocking’s with my children, though they were allowed to ‘cheat’ and particularly the youngest more often than not scoured the house giggling and laughing, comparing one sock to another while she hunted for the largest stretchiest stocking available, most often her Dad’s calf high athletic sock.

A good thing, that, as they sometimes found their favorite music CD all tucked in with other goodies from Santa.

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.

Advent Calendar Challenge – Christmas Cookies

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee of  GeneaBloggers.com for today’s Advent Calendar Challenge!  Each day, reading the other blog posts and then writing my own has taken me on a “Sentimental Journey” through Christmases Past!  Fortunately, I haven’t met up with Scrooge in any of them!

Christmas Cookies

Did your family or ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

My mom wasn’t all that big on making cookies.  I mean, she would make them, but once they were in the oven, well, they might stay there a tad too long.

And who knows,  maybe that was her subtle way to get me to take over the cookie baking once I got old enough!

No Pillsbury Dough Boy for my mom…

When I was really young, about my granddaughter’s age, somewhere from five to eight years of age, Mom was really big on making yummy sugar cookie dough (from scratch of course, no Pillsbury doughboy with his handy cookie tubes back then!) and letting us cut them out.

She did this pretty often, actually, and not always just at Christmas time.    Sometimes it was my nephews and I, ( we all being nearly of the same age) and sometimes it was with my friends and classmates.

We would dive in, flour on the table, flour on our noses and hands, (and sometimes on the floor!) and share the rolling pins and the cookie cutters.

We had so many cookie cutters that they filled up a shoe box. There were Christmas trees and reindeer, Christmas stars, and little lambs and cows. We had round ones, and diamond shaped ones, and little Porky Pig ones. (Geeminy, wonder where those all are?) Time to go on a treasure hunt!

We were always on the scout for new cookie cutters and we usually brought a few new ones home each Christmas.

Shortly after I married I began to host my own sugar cookie party for my little niece. The first year, she was probably only three or four, and I think we only got two or three cookies baked in one piece that first year!

Did I mention that we always had to double (or triple) the recipe to make sure at least some of the cookies got baked instead of eaten in dough form.  (That was before we knew that all kinds of illnesses resulted from eating raw eggs in cookie dough) What a devastating discovery that was!

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Bing Crosby

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 7th, 2009

If you asked me what my favorite Christmas song was, I’d have to hem and haw and then answer with about 20 different songs, all favorites, each in their own way.

But “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” has always tugged at my heartstrings. Every time I heard it, I’d tear up even when I still lived at home, even when all my family still lived close and all were still alive.

I grew up hearing Bing Crosby sing it, early version with the beautiful photo slide show is special.


We all want to be home for Christmas…


It seems no matter how old I get or what stage in life I am, this song still makes me teary.

Don’t we all want to be home for Christmas? And maybe at different times in our lives we’d like to really go back home and be a child again, when life was carefree, the worries were someone else’s, and in my case, when my family circle wasn’t missing my father.

When I was in college at K-State, though I loved college and my friends, I so looked forward to going home where my family would be at Christmas time.

Now, with my family grown and my brother’s families grown, there’s always an empty spot where one or another of the children weren’t able to make it home for Christmas, or others in the family went to celebrate with their in-laws.

There are More Empty Places in the family circle…

And in the past few years, there are more and more empty places in the family circle that will never be filled again.

And so, the words of this song “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams” tug at my heartstrings more and more each year.

Advent Calendar – Christmas Parties

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 7th, 2009

Christmas Parties? My first thought when I read the challenge was “We didn’t go to Christmas parties when I was a kid.” Then I read Randy Seaver’s Christmas Party Challenge at Genea-Musings and realized, well, maybe we did. (And by the way, Congratulations to Randy for his much deserved “Genea-Speak Award.”

Below, from Thomas MacEntee’s Geneabloggers website is today’s challenge!  What did/do you and your family do to celebrate Christmas?

Holiday Parties

Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?

We didn’t do parties, we had “Christmas”…

We didn’t do parties, we had “Christmas”.   When I was very young, we used to get together with the aunts and uncles who lived close enough to drive home and draw names to exchange gifts.  I’m not sure why and when that stopped, but it may have simply been the result of the next generation marrying, moving further away for jobs, and it becoming too difficult to find a date when all could attend.

Later, it was our own family who gathered as my brother’s grew up, married, and had families.   We gathered on Christmas Eve to eat supper (we called it supper then) and exchange gifts.  And because my oldest nephew was just two and a half years younger than me, and they stair-stepped down at two year intervals till I had five nephews and nieces,  I had ‘partners-in-crime’ to shake packages and impatiently try to hurry the adults up!

I can’t for the life of me remember what we ate on those nights!  As a child, it wasn’t about the food, it was about the gifts, and it seemed unbelievable that the adults could think about food when there were so many surprises waiting for them (and more importantly for us) in the other room under the tree.

They actually ate dessert before they let us open the packages, and I think maybe they prolonged the dessert eating just to torture us!

Can you imagine?

Finally, they declared we had waited long enough…

Finally, they declared we had waited long enough, and everyone gathered in our tiny little living room and my Dad began to hand out packages to everyone.  He didn’t dress up like Santa, but his Christmas spirit is something that I remember today.

Dad was all about giving the gift and watching the recipient while they opened it.   Their enjoyment was the gift that gave him the most  joy each Christmas.

After Dad passed away when I was just shy of thirteen, there was something important missing from our Christmas gatherings each year and I didn’t even come close to finding it again till my own children were born.

Merry Christmas…

Advent Calendar – Santa Claus – December 6th, 2009

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 6th, 2009

Woo Hoo! It’s the December 6th Advent Calendar Challenge from GeneaBlogger’s Thomas MacEntee!

Thomas is posting daily Advent Calendar Challenges after 7 a.m. each day. (Being adventurous and a night owl, I’ve tried to cheat and have checked just after midnight. That’s a no-go! )

Thanks Thomas for the Advent Calendar Challenge Fun!

Santa Claus

Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

Surely I must have written a letter to Santa while I was in school, though I don’t recall doing so then or at home.

I Was Grown Before I Sat on Santa’s lap…

The only time I ever sat on Santa’s lap I was a grown woman with a nearly-grown daughter!

My daughter was babysitting the little neighbor girls and the local airport (whose manager was a friend of mine) hosted a “Santa Fly-in” each Christmas where Mr. and Mrs. Santa flew in and visited with the children for a couple of hours.  It was festive and fun, so my daughter and I took the little neighbor girls to see Santa.

Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus at the Airport "Fly-In"

Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus at the Airport "Fly-In"

Well, Mr and Mrs Santa’s rules were such that everyone there sat on Santa’s lap and made their wish!

for the Space of time…I was a Little girl again…

And for just the space of time that took I was a little girl again, telling Santa what I wanted for Christmas.  Maybe we all need to have that opportunity each Christmas, to become a kid again, sit on Santa’s lap, and tell him what we want for Christmas.

Somewhere, I have a 35 mm photo, and when I can find it, I promise to scan it and add it here…

Merry Christmas!

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!

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