The Long Reach of Christmas

A not too distant Christmas Past. My wife and I. Moore Family Picture

In her book, The Secret Life of Objects, author Dawn Raffel shows how seemingly everyday objects found in people’s homes hold stories about family history. It is pointed out in the book that the stories these objects hold must be told and recorded; otherwise, they will be lost all too soon with the passing of time. In many of our homes, the objects that have some of the oldest and most tender stories can center around special occasions and holidays. Perhaps no holiday can pack more of these emotions and stories than Christmas. Each year countless millions of homes unpack these objects so full of memories and set them in places of honor where they will decorate our home and warm our hearts. Then when Christmas has come and gone, they will be taken down and repacked and stored in their keeping place until they are brought out once more to bring back our cherished remembrances.

The Nativity Scene a center piece in our Christmas. Moore Family Picture 2018

In our nearly fifty years of marriage, my wife and I have managed to make a few memories around Christmas and to preserve a few from our childhood. It was among our first Christmases that we put together a nativity scene. In the first few years, they were very small, cheap, and disposable, as they did not hold up very well. The one pictured above we have had now for about forty years and has been on display in our many homes for most of our Christmases. The village pictured below has been a very long prosses to obtain. It has many parts from a park, churches, one Catholic, and one we believe is Methodist. This is for the two main religions in our family, but trust me, we have more. We have shops and places of businesses that mirror our family’s interests and areas of work. You can see a little bit of our family history by looking over our village. The village has grown over the years, and our personal dwelling has gotten smaller, so it is rare when the whole town is on display.

Small part of the Christmas Village. Moore Family Picture 2018

We also have a few Santa’s that make it out of the boxes each year. Pictured below is a ceramic Santa that my wife made sometime in the 1970s.

Santa! Moore Family Picture

However, we have a much older Santa that is also pictured below. I do not remember a Christmas without this Santa. It is made out of plastic, and as you can see from his damaged foot and the bandaged hand, he has served long and well. He used to be in the thick of the action right under the tree, but he is now retired to a much safer and quieter place. In the second photograph below taken in 1954, you can see him on the floor in the lower left-hand part of the picture.

This Santa has been part of every Christmas that I can recall. Moore Family Picture 2018
My parents Veronica Deloria Moore and Charles H Moore. Christmas 1954. Moore Family Picture

When my wife and I had to close up her parents’ home, one of the few things we kept for ourselves besides pictures were the ornaments that were used on her Christmas trees when she was growing up. A few were all that we managed to save. One of them is pictured below.

Christmas Past, for my wife. Moore Family Picture

My wife, over the years, has made each member of the family their very own Christmas Stocking. The front part is pieced and quilted with a solid fabric for the back. These stockings are very sturdy, with many over twenty years old. Pictured below is the newest stocking, which was made this year for our great-grandson, the newest member of the family.

The newest Christmas Stocking. Moore Family Picture 2019

Great Grandma with our Great Grandson Christian. Moore Family Picture 2019

Also pictured below is one of the many quilts my wife has made over the years. This Christmas quilt was pieced together to look like an old fashion tree ornament with the light being reflected off it.

Christmas Quilt by Sandra Moore Moore Family Picture 2018

Many things of value and family history cannot be packed and unpacked from a box. That will be a blog for perhaps next year. However, two I would like to share at this time. Below is pictured the inside of St. John The Baptist Church, in Plattsburgh, New York. I cannot begin to tell you what an oasis the Christmas Midnight Mass was for me during my mid to late teens. In those years, this was my Christmas.

The front altar at St. John The Baptist Church.

But as everyone knows who truly understands genealogy and family history, it is the people that count. All those that have come before us and those with us now and those to come is what this is about. This year when you gather tell some stories, write them down and take a few pictures of your objects and write their story’s down. So, when you pack things away, you will also pack away for safekeeping a part of your family’s story. So that long after we are gone, our story and those of others that we have preserved will still be with the family. Then the laughter we share at Christmas and other family events will echo for generations.

“When we remember a special Christmas, it is not the presents that made it special, but the laughter, the feeling of love, and the togetherness of friends and family that made that Christmas special.” Catherine Pulsifer. Moore Family Picture
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41 Responses to The Long Reach of Christmas

  1. grannyfox55 says:

    Love your idea of taking pictures and then writing the stories
    Enjoying your blog
    Merry Christmas

  2. Susan Lewis says:

    Loved this one, Charles. I had forgotten how much your Dad looked like mine! Wonderful memories!

  3. What a beautiful nod to a family’s Christmas celebrations – past, present, and future. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  4. chattykerry says:

    What a lovely, nostalgic post. Some of our ornaments date back to the 60’s when Teddy and I were kids. We grew up in the same place in Scotland and still talk about which department store Santa was the real one… 🎅 Your wife’s quilt is a work of art and I should display my auntie’s one that she made for me. Two handmade baubles are particularly special to me. I found a real kinship with one of my American cousins found after 2000. We spent a couple of vacations together and sent gifts. Then she sadly succumbed to the ordure of the family illness and died of an overdose. Who knows if it was intentional but it wasn’t the first attempt? I will raise a glass to her on Christmas Eve and hope she is having great fun getting to know my mum up there. Have a wonderful festive time with your beautiful family. K x 🎅

    • chmjr2 says:

      Someday I will have to tell the story of how I met the real Santa, and was his elf a few times. My wife is a true artist in her quilt making. By all means raise a glass or two for your friend and cousin and perhaps send up a prayer or two if you have a mind to. All the best.

  5. Averyl says:

    I love this! Did you see that I have the same Silent Night ornament hanging on our tree and pictured on my blog?!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I especially loved the final photo. Seeing this post makes me mindful that I need to record some of the stories behind my ornaments.

  7. Amy says:

    This is just a beautiful post. Such sweet memories and well-loved memorabilia. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas with your family and your memories, Charles, and a happy and healthy 2020!

  8. dlpedit says:

    Your blog is so true! Sadly, in today’s buy-it, use-it, throw-it-away world, many people don’t care about holding onto those precious story-packed objects the way you and I do. I laughed out loud when I saw the photo of your Christmas village. It reminded me of the model railroad layout I used to have, complete with a town of all sorts of buildings–industries, stores, churches, etc. And then in the next photo I saw the Lionel track on the floor! And thanks for the Christmas wishes. I hope that you all have a good one, too.

  9. June McLean says:

    Merry Christmas Sandy and Charlie. I loved this blog – beautiful family, traditions and love. With 💕 June

  10. Sharon says:

    The perfect holiday post with its mindful message and your our wife’s quilt is gorgeous! Health and happiness in the coming year and I look forward to more posts and stories 🙂

  11. Eilene Lyon says:

    What a wonderful collection you have. I love Sandra’s Christmas quilt! Because of my parents’ divorce, all those family Christmas decorations “went away” to who-knows-where. I don’t recall ever being given a chance to claim anything I may have wanted. There were just too many hard feelings going on around then. There are certainly a fair number of family treasures I will never see again.

    • chmjr2 says:

      That is sad, but also a part of many family stories. It is the way of things that for one reason or another families split reform and or go on their different paths. All we can do is save what we can, remember to tell the stories and to somehow preserve them for future generations. Also Sandy has made a few different Christmas quilts and they are now with different members of the family. She is I believe leaving the best treasure behind true family art.

  12. I love the warmth that you convey. Yes, certain treasures like a doll or decoration are part of the family history. I hope your great-grandson will in Christmas future take out his Christmas stocking and tell of his Great Grandmother…

  13. Luanne says:

    I love this post!!! And Raffels book, too. How are you doing?

  14. Jim McKeever says:

    What a herart-warming post, Charles. I had just finished retrieving boxes of ornaments, lights, etc. when I sat down to read this. My mom was a saver, and I have a few of my childhood ornaments as well as many photos of Christmases past, when I was a wee one. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  15. momfawn says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful Christmas traditions. I, too, have many vintage ornaments from my childhood, along with two that graced trees when my mother was a girl (she would be 90 this year, but we lost her to cancer at 79). I only have room to display a small portion of them each year, but treasure each memory, along with the new memories my children, grandchildren, and extended family make. Have a wonderful New Year. – Fawn

  16. Sheryl says:

    Vintage Christmas decorations with lots of memories attached are the best. I’ll take an old decoration with a family story any day over a shiny new trinket. Happy new year!

  17. Angela says:

    What a beautiful post, and how right you are!

  18. Karma says:

    What a great idea (and a good example), and what a treasure for future generations of your family!

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