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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.