I'm always looking for ways to incorporate genealogy into my everyday life, even more so at Christmastime. Though arguably the busiest time of year, Christmas puts genealogy at the forefront of my mind. The emphasis on family, memories of past Christmases, my curiosity about traditions from around the world . . . Most years it takes the form of gifts for my grandparents who are all still living (#TBTG) and gift requests on my own Wish List. This year it took the form of decorations and food.
Old family photos aren't the only way to recognize your ancestry through your decor, especially during the holidays. Some of the ways my family has celebrated with the past in mind has been through traditional ornaments. Most notably German glass-blown ornaments. My dad's mom had expressed a wish to have one of the glass-blown birds. She loves birds, but she was also very close with her German grandmother and remembered these ornaments from her childhood. My mom's parents live near an impressive year-round Christmas store called Tis The Season and they have a substantial collection of ornaments of all kinds. My dad almost always buys a new German glass-blown ornament either for Grandma or himself whenever we've had the chance to stop there. The various birds being the first.
My own version of this kind of heritage decorating usually happens by chance. One year I found an assortment of global Santa Claus figures at the local Salvation Army store. This year I found a traditional looking St. Nicholas and made one of my shelves into an international Santa display (of the ones that I could locate.) We've already established that I have German ancestry, hence St. Nicholas. I also have the Scottish Santa (which just means Santa's wearing a kilt and playing bagpipe) as I am most likely of Scottish ancestry as the descendant of Protestant emigrants from Northern Ireland. There's also the Greek Santa. (I'm not Greek, that I know of, but it's fine. But if I were, it'd make a great genealogically-oriented addition to my holiday decor.)
The last form of heritage decor I want to mention are heirlooms. My dad has a large ceramic tree that my Grandma had made for her mother. Grandma gave it to Dad when Grandma Smith died. It is now an essential part of his holiday decor. There are also snowmen that he puts around the base that were also made by his mom.
Whether it is through memories of Christmases of the past, traditions from your ethnic heritage, or family heirlooms that have been passed on to you, there are many ways to make your family history a part of your celebration through holiday decorations that don't involve photographs.
I love cats, books, Diet Coke, personality quizzes, and genealogy.
Actualized type: INTP
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