Posts Tagged ‘Childhood Memories’

Christmas Advent Challenge – Christmas Pageants!

Sherry Stocking Kline
December 16th, 2009

Thanks to Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers for his daily blogging (and memory) challenges…

Christmas At School

What did you do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?

Oh, my gosh, the Christmas pageant. How could I forget?  (Maybe because I’ve tried hard to?)

I attended a fairly tiny little school in a small town in Kansas. Eighty kids in the whole school, grades one through eight. That’s right, no kindergarten, and no middle school.

We had roughly 12 to 14 in our class at any given time, four classrooms, and two classes in each school room.

My very first experience in the program was when the folding wall dividers of the school were folded up, and parents poured into the school to watch us on the stage.  A couple of years later, there was a stage in the gymnasium, and we held our programs there.

Everyone was in the Christmas program…

Everyone was in the Christmas program.  Everyone.  Even people who couldn’t sing, people who couldn’t act, painfully shy people, and people like me who couldn’t sing, act, and were painfully shy.

Do I have horrible memories of the Christmas pageant?  No, but it was a long time ago, now, or seems like it, and the memories are all jumbled together.

Memories of waiting on the steps up to the stage, every kid full of Christmas excitement and too much Christmas candy, teachers threatening everyone within an inch of their lives if they didn’t quiet down, didn’t behave, or didn’t remember their lines.

He ran to the bathroom to ‘toss his cookies…’

Of course, the older kids got the more responsible, leading roles, and so the older we got the more responsibility we held.  One year the excitement got to one boy, and he ran to the bathroom to ‘toss his cookies.’   I felt his pain.

My one (and only)  shining moment as a lead in a play came when they needed someone to play the part of the daughter who honors Santa Lucia, the Swedish saint. (Read about that tradition here.)  Celebrated on December 13, the oldest daughter dresses in a long white dress with a red sash, and a wreath of leaves and candles (or battery powered tiny flashlights in my case) white socks and no shoes.

Because I had long, nearly waist length blond braids, I was a shoe-in for this part. It was my job to serve bread cubes to the others in the part of the skit.  Whether I was good or was lousy I can’t say, but it was my last leading role…

Advent Christmas Calendar Challenge – Charitable – Volunteer Work

by Sherry Stocking Kline
December 13, 2009

The following is part of the Advent Calendar Challenge, thanks to GeneaBloggers Thomas MacEntee!

Charitable/Volunteer Work

Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?

When I read this challenge, my conscience was pricked.  Pretty hard, too. Ouch.

Do we do this during the holidays.   No, not that I can ever recall did we, nor do we now during holidays.

I felt terrible.  And then a little voice inside me reminded me that throughout the year, we do ‘things’ that make other peoples lives a little bit easier.

Growing up on a farm and a rural community the farm families’ were close.  If your neighbor (and that includes people miles away) were ill, suffered a family loss, had surgery, died, etc., the word would go out, and food began to arrive. Almost immediately.

Prayer chains were begun and good, home-cooked meals were made and delivered with caring, concern, and love. Funeral dinners were provided, and funerals were well attended.   “Can we help?”  What can we do?”  These questions were asked and meant.  If the husband were ill, fields were plowed, cows were fed, or cows milked.  We were a part of the giving.  And when my dad passed away, of the receiving.

Growing up, I never heard of battered women’s shelters or food banks.  Did they exist?  Surely they did, but not in my tiny town, and maybe not even in the nearby one I now  live in.     But they do now.

My inner voice reminded that now we donate to a battered women’s shelter in Oklahoma where my cousin works, to a Christian group here that helps pregnant teens and other mothers with supplies when they are faced with a surprise pregnancy, to the food bank here in town.

Because we’ve had three family members die from leukemia and lymphoma, I volunteer and walk with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night” walk.  The money helps families with information and  expenses when someone gets a leukemia diagnosis. You can click here, and find the chapter near you, links to donate, and information if you or a family member needs it.

And when the health and wellness company that I’ve been a part of for nearly ten years began the “Save a Child” program to save the lives of children who were dying from malaria I began donating every month.

For every $10 bottle of silver I purchase, the company matches it with another.  And ships them to Africa, where each bottle saves the lives of at least two children.  Interested? E-mail me at Sherry@familytreewriter.com for more info.

But my conscience still pricks me because there isn’t anything special I do just at Christmas time.  I hope to make next year’s post different.

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!

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 – 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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