Advent: Day 5

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?

 

We lived out in the country. Way out. Our area was nicknamed “Guam”. Most of my neighbors, or at least the original owners of the properties, were farmers. I guess farmers aren’t into outdoor holiday decorations because the only 2 that I actually remember was my dad putting lights on our house only when I was extremely small and my dad’s parents (who lived next door) puttling lights on their bushes on the side of the house facing the driveway. Gosh my family is boring! Someone please tell me you have a more exciting story to tell.

Advent: Day 4

Christmas Cards

Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?

My parents never sent cards. They worked a lot and had more urgent priorities. Maybe it’s because we didn’t get many so we didn’t feel bad for not reciprocating to many people. Or, then again, maybe we didn’t get many because we didn’t send them out. I’m sure it was a little bit of both. We never got any from my mom’s family, but my dad’s parents as well as a few of his cousins always sent them in spite of the lack of reciprocation and they still do. Now that I’m an adult, I still don’t send them. I’ve had good intentions a few years, but time always got away from me. For the most part; however, I think that in this day of technology and high prices of both postage and quality cards, it’s a waste to send greetings in the words of someone else that won’t even get to the person exactly on Christmas when you can e-mail, call, text, skype or visit with a person on Dec. 24th and 25th for free to send your greetings in your own words.

Of the cards we received, we never kept any beyond the current season and they were never set out. We always thought they just took up space, but now looking back, what I wouldn’t give to have a card from my late maternal grandmother saved. I very strongly suggest keeping a card from each holiday from each person. You never know when that person will no longer be with you and you’ll hold onto that handwriting sample as if it were that person themselves.

Advent: Day 2

Holiday Foods

Did your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays? Was there one dish that was unusual?

Growing up. holiday meals were pretty traditional, turkey at both my grandparents’. It’s only more recently, as my grandparents have gotten older and cooking has become more of a labor, that things have changed. On my dad’s side, we now have pizza (usually at least one has toppings that one might describe as odd, creative, or gourmet depending on your opinion of pizza toppings) and assorted appetizers. My cousin Travis’s wife Catherine makes a very delicious taco dip that I always request. We don’t have a sit down meal at my mom’s parents’ anymore since the 4 families are hard enough to get at their house at the same time long enough to open gifts, much less for a full sit down meal. Dinner at the Wittmann Christmas consists of ham and hot beef sandwiches, my mom’s broccoli salad and cheesy potatoes (starchy heaven), and assorted desserts.

Advent: Day 1

I found an interesting Advent Calendar of genealogical blog prompts, so let’s get started! I’ll post the prompt containing questions I want you as my readers to answer, then I’ll post my own.

Christmas Trees

Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

 

When I was a child (under 12), we actually had 2 trees. One upstairs and one down. Both were real. I remember one year we even put fake snow on the downstairs one. After my dad left; however, mom didn’t want the mess of a tree so we got a fake one. Now her only tree is a small table top one that actually stays up year round.

When I was very small, I remember helping decorate the tree, but it was never a fun job so my mom eventually ended up with the job. I suppose that’s why she doesn’t mess with the tree now.

My grandparents had polar opposite trees. My paternal grandparents always had a big, beautiful real tree. My grandpa still does. My maternal grandparents; however, have had a very wimpy artificial tree for as long as I can remember. Real trees are something that “makes” Christmas for me. It doesn’t need to be much. A couple boughs in a vase and I’m happy, they just need to be real.

NaNoBloPoMo: Day 30

Yes, I know. I missed my post yesterday. Unfortunately I was busy yesterday morning and early afternoon then I had to go to my great uncle Del’s funeral and, by the time I got home, it was late and I was exhausted from virtually zero sleep the night before because I wasn’t feeling well, so I just decided to go to bed. I’ll catch up tomorrow.

I’ve said it before, I love genealogy because it always gives silver lining to situations. Not only did Del’s funeral bring our family together for a long over due family reunion, but we were there to comfort and support each other. There was also an extra silver lining for me. Del’s funeral allowed me to connect with the wife of my first cousin 2x removed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Linus’s wife, Bonnie, was a Schommer. Her aunt Anne married my grandmother Betty’s uncle Carl Johnson. Bonnie and I spent a great deal of time talking about her aunt and uncle, people I was never blessed with the opportunity to meet. I was also able to see pictures of my great grandfather Louis Wittmann as well as his mother Hazel Wolf and her mother Wilhelmenia Kruger. I’d never seen pictures of these three before so I very much enjoyed getting to see the family resemblance between them and people that I know.

Today, the silver linings kept coming. I connected with Bonnie and her daughter Sara (who’s birthday is also 9/19, just a different year) on Facebook and proceeded to spend the next several hours talking to her about family history and lots of other topics. She also helped me connect to other Wittmans (they spell their surname with 1 N). I returned the favor by cyber introducing her to Del’s grandson Josh. This some how turned into a discussion about sushi and other random things. I then noticed that Josh is FB friends with a guy named Beau Schommer so I asked how he know Beau. Turns out that Beau is Josh’s half brother. I, of course, couldn’t resist trying to find out if his father (Josh’s step dad) is related to Bonnie and my great-great aunt Anne. Turns out that Beau’s grandfather, Jerome Schommer’s father, Nicholas, and Bonnie’s grandfather, Jean-Pierre, were half brothers! Genealogy never ceases to amaze me.

So the lesson of the day is, next time life hands you a difficult situation, be open to everything around you. You never know when something that will help you cope is right around the corner.

NaNoBloMoPo: Day 28

This morning, like always, I singed into my ancestry.com account and was surprised to see a new comment. I only have 1 other one so and that’s on a different tree, so that caught me off guard. The woman was wondering how I’m related to the Schommer family. As much as I was looking forward to making this connection via the Schommers to this person, that soon took a back seat. Her user name contains her married surname which is Wittman. I was instantly curios as to how her husband may fit into our family. I didn’t know his first name but given his last name and his wife’s name, I was easily able to figure out that her husband was Linus Wittman, my first cousin 1x removed who I already had in my family tree. His father Anton was a brother to my great grandfather Louis. It’s funny, but when I went back in my tree to look at their entries, I noticed that I already had Bonnie’s maiden name listed, but I have no recollection of entering that detail. If I had, I should have also recognized it as the maiden name of my paternal grandmother Betty Domer’s aunt Anne. A little research uncovered that Bonnie, too, is a niece of Carl and Anne, she’s just biologically related to Anne, while my grandmother was biologically related to Carl. What a small world! I can’t wait to learn more about Carl and Anne from her. Stay tuned!