3. A geneajourney I took was a revisit of Murphy’s Creek and perambulations on the Darling Downs. Also, my first trip to the Gold Coast since 1992, to attend the excellent Footsteps in Time Conference.
4. An important record I found was a mudmap of the Oughton Cottages in Courtown, Gorey where my Callaghan ancestors lived. It was hiding among the newly released 1847 Quarto books from Griffith’s Valuation and enabled me to track the homes of my ancestors.
5. A newly found recently-reconnected family member shared the christening gown worn by my grandmother and all her siblings c1870-1890. Such a treasure to see and hold. Another treasure was receiving a modern photo of Hugh Moran (see above). Another cousin regularly sends me family photos from her heritage collection. Some cousins have also very generously shared their DNA with me, enabling me to pin down new connections – with more to be unravelled.
6. A geneasurprise I received was a phone call from my 2nd cousin who I hadn’t seen since we were pre-teens. We’ve loved reconnecting and I’m grateful she found me, and that we live relatively close by!
7. My 2017 blog posts that I was particularly proud of were: the stories I’ve wanted to tell about my father’s life and work; and uncovering the war-time experiences of Hugh Moran.
8. I made a new geminate, Katherine R Willson, when we shared an Uber with her and the Legal Genealogist en route to the Post-Roots Tech bloggers’ gathering in February. We had an absolute hoot in the car. She has a heart that encompasses so many.
In the intervening years we’ve relocated to my home state, far from some of our family, the grandchildren have grown up a little and we’ve acquired another one. I wondered what might have changed, and found that most of our traditions have continued with only minor tweaking. So here’s my modified response.
THE 2012 2017 CHRISTMAS GENEAMEME
Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family?We always have a tree with many decorations – hearts and stars feature prominently. The Christmas angel we bought in Galway many years ago, sits right below the red star at the top of the tree. We usually have the tree up for about four weeks – between two family birthdays- but we’ve been a bit late this year.
Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day?We used to be regular church-goers but we had a falling out with the church and haven’t been for decades. Midnight Mass was always our favourite, with the joyous enthusiasm of the youth band revving it up at the end of Mass. Thanks to the late night, the children always slept in. One tradition carried across the generations was my husband telling the kids to “roll over and go back to sleep” followed by “open the gift at the end of the bed” (a book!) I’m curious why the local Anglican church here has a service in German.
Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa? Yes, of course! Like most kids, belief was suspended one year when I snooped and found my major present. I can’t recall when our children stopped believing but must ask if all four of our grandkids are still believers. There’s the universal rule: even if you’re old enough to know the facts, you don’t spoil it for the littlies.
Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?I don’t think this is a general tradition in Australia, at least where we’ve lived. Instead, Carols by Candlelight is a celebration in many places. Our local town had one on what might be called the village green this year. We didn’t go…just disorganised.
What’s your favourite Christmas music?A burst of the Messiah is hard to beat!
What’s your favourite Christmas carol?Little Drummer Boy and Mary’s Boy Child remain firm favourites and I have fond memories of enjoying Oh Tannenbaum after I started to learn German. Boney M’s Christmas Carols is one of my favourites (joyous and exhuberant), followed by Christmas Carols from Oxford (serious but gloriously sung).
Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read? Not really.
Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only,Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?The adults do not-so-secret Santa per family, and the little ones get gifts from each of us. We were shocked and rather aghast one year when we saw the massed presents under the tree and resolved to make it more balanced. In the mania of the mall I’ve been pleased to see that books remain popular, and at the garden centre, that plants are another favourite.
Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?It is usually indoors as it lets us have the table set formally, using family heirlooms. If it’s really hot, we’ll add the aircon. Afterwards, and before, we’re likely to be outdoors for a while.
What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal?Never, ever turkey. Roast pork (cold or hot), ham always, seafood, and whatever fancy salads the collective gourmands put together. Christmas pudding has gone off the menu in recent years, replaced by one daughter’s tiramisu and a special pavlova-like dessert I make. Our meal is a collaboration of chefs even if the kitchen gets a bit crowded!
Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas?Always my Scottish grandmother’s shortbread recipe. The Christmas cake has also gone off the menu recently and after many years I swapped from my mother’s recipe to one I found in the Women’s Weekly:green peppercorn cake-delicious!
Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited? For decades I used my grandmother’s pudding recipe but see 10, now we have a lighter dessert. I suppose my dietary restriction re dried fruit has influenced both this and the cake, since others aren’t die-hard fans. I’ve been intrigued, reading responses from the US in particular, that pudding seems to be a very British inheritance.
Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they? Sometimes gingerbread. When the grandkids are nearby I like to involve them in the making of small cakes and the shortbread. It’s become a family tradition to find special salads for the day – some stand the test of time and reappear each year.
Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?Rarely these days though I once used to. One of our Christmas activities is doing craft with the grandchildren so they give something to their parents – teaches them it’s not all about their own presents, and it’s fun!
Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa? Over the years this has chopped and changed depending on where we’ve been geographically. Some years we’ve all been together, other times it’s different combinations. This year there will be four generations including two branches of our Cass mob. Now that we live far away from some of our daughters and their families, they are usually here with us so it involves lots of preparation for the influx. When our daughters worked in the hospitality industry, rostered on public holidays, we started celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, in the European way.
Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ?Yes, primarily around church-going. We also have more people involved.
How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins?Phone calls for those who are far away, and locally it varies depending on mututal availability. This year I enjoyed my first Christmas lunch with other members of theCaloundra Family History society– far more fun than work functions.
Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?For a long time, we’ve had some lights around the garden but when we moved here, the strong hint we were given is that this neighbourhood “does” lights, so each year we’ve added a few more. Now some families have moved away and there’s fewer lights…sad.
Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue?No.
Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?Not any more, especially if we’re not organised. I guess when we had small children, we made sure we were organised and went.
Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)?Not that I recall.
Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?“Always” at home or with family though one year we arrived home from overseas days before Christmas, and one year three of us spent Christmas in Lucerne…very pretty with snow, church bells etc – but we missed everyone else.
Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?I wish – but it would be rather a shock in the sub-tropics.
Do you have a Christmas tree every year?Absolutely!
Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?As a child we had a small gum (eucalyptus) tree or a branch. Since we’ve been married it’s always been an artificial one. We were mesmerised to see real trees being bundled up in their onion-bag wraps when overseas at/near Christmas.
Do you have special Xmas tree decorations?Do we ever! We collect them from our travels so we have all sorts – no themed decorations for us! There are also a few that go back years: kids’ craft, and one from our very first Christmas a couple. More recently there are some that were made by the grandchildren, including a handprint from each.
Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?Christmas for sure. Aussies don’t do Thanksgiving. I rather like the idea of it but it would have to be mid-year. After all, this is the end of the school year, time for annual holidays and in some businesses, end of financial year. The thought of adding anything else to the mania of the end of the year would send people right round the bend.
Alona from LoneTester blog has offered us this fun “When I was young” geneameme and it’s been a pleasure reflecting on the answers.
Do you (or your parents) have any memorabilia from when you were a baby? (ie. baby book, lock of hair, first shoes etc.) Yes, I am lucky to have a baby book, baby photos, bracelet and other odds and ends.
Do you know if you were named after anyone? Quite the opposite – I was named so none of my name included any of my paternal grandmother’s…hence the “een” ending. Ironically Catherine is a name I now know to be threaded through generations of my Irish, German and Scots ancestry.
And do you know of any other names your parents might have named you? Paul, because I was supposed to be a boy.
What is your earliest memory?Hard to say, I have vague memories of my maternal grandmother who died before I was four and used to bring biscuits when she visited. No specific memory other than that.
Did your parent/s (or older siblings) read, sing or tell stories to you? Do you remember any of these?Yes both read to me. Mum liked fairy tales and Dad would buy me religious comics when I was sick (odd because Mum was the religious one). Mum used to sing around the house and at night would sing “turaluralura”, an Irish lullaby.
When you were young, do you remember what it was that you wanted to grow up to be? I wanted to be a marine biologist until 2nd year uni…just as well it didn’t work out as I get claustrophobic with snorkel masks, let alone scuba diving gear.
Did you have a favourite teacher at school? Sr Gemma in Grade 8 and Sr Mary Benedict for Years 11-12. Both made an enormous difference to my eduction.
How did you get to school? Primary School: Walking – it wasn’t far and we didn’t own a car. Secondary school: bus to Fortitude Valley. University: Bus and tram.
What games did playtime involve? Skipping, tiggy, elastics….??? At home, dolls and dress-ups or guns and cowboys.
Did you have a cubby house? Not a fancy one, but a special play space under the house (remember Qld houses are on stilts), and I’d sometimes build one with old sheets etc under the steps etc.
What was something you remember from an early family holiday? The 2.5 day train ride on the Sunlander from Brisbane to Townsville for holidays on Magnetic Island. Throwing newspapers to the railway gangers in their tents by the line. Buying fish, chips and (potato) scallops in Rockhampton. Meeting up with Mum’s childhood friend and her family, and a couple of aunts.
What is a memory from one of your childhood birthdays or Christmas? The smell of the small gum tree that dad would cut from down the creek bank. I remember that my friends were often away for my birthday as it was school holidays…poor me, boo hoo.
What childhood injuries do you remember? I was lucky to have no broken bones etc (touch wood!) so one stands out….I cut my left calf on a sticky-out bit on a bike pedal. The family friend in the next street carried me home with it bleeding everywhere then we went to the hospital – strangely I don’t remember how, given we didn’t have a car. I still have the faded scar as a memento.
What was your first pet? Cats, cats and more cats.
Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of “when I was young ..?”Not really. My paternal grandparents lived next door but they didn’t tell those sorts of stories. Instead my grandmother introduced me to Scottish music, bagpipes and dancing.
What was entertainment when you were young? The radio I guess, though I don’t remember listening to it a lot until I was a teenager. My grandmother had a gramophone which I’ve inherited (currently being minded by my friend in Brisbane) and I loved checking the needle, winding it up, and playing those heavy old records. Sometimes if you visited a home where they had a piano there might be singalongs but my family didn’t do this much, perhaps because of Dad’s shift work. Otherwise entertainment was books, hence my addiction, one I shared with Dad. Sometimes we’d go to the neighbourhood picture theatre for the movies. I remember seeing Fantasia in the city with Mum and Aunty Emily and being scared silly by all those marauding brooms.
Do you remember what it was it like when your family got a new fangled invention?(ie. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?) Heck, I even remember when we first got some colour camera film when a “rich” relation brought some back from the USA for us. Until we got a telephone when I was in my mid-late teens I used to have to sit nearby while Mum rang her friend from a public phone box…man they could talk! We bought a Commodore computer for our own family in the late 1980s and a VCR in the mid-1980s.
Did your family have a TV? Was it b&w or colour? And how many channels did you get? I remember the neighbours down the next street getting a black and white TV – maybe because they had several children? We got a B&W one when I was in my teens – probably a good thing because we didn’t have any in PNG after we were married. Channels – no idea.Two or three I think.
Did your family move house when you were young? Do you remember it?No, I lived in the same house until I married and Dad lived on the same block his whole life.
Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (ie.fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc)I remember an early trip to Magnetic Island when there was a cyclone and the palm trees seemed to touch their toes. Despite this Dad took me up the back to go to the toilet….probably I was scared….it’s a wonder he didn’t say to use a bucket! We got taken off the island by army duck then a couple of days later we took the ferry to Green Island and as Mum always says “were green on the way over, and green on the way back”. I still remember the boat dipping from side to side, just touching the water. Dad was one of the few who didn’t get sick, but put him on a mill-pond and he’d be violently ill.
Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory?Tura lura lura, Bing Crosby, Oh Tannenbaum, certain hymns. My daughter still sings turalura to her children. I wonder who Mum learnt it from – perhaps her Irish father.
What is something that an older family member taught you to do?Mum taught me to sew, and must have taught me some crocheting too I think.Dad’s mother had been a dressmaker but as she was already in her late 70s when I was a child, she never bothered sewing any more, though I did enjoy playing with the buttons she had in a jar.
What are brands that you remember from when you were a kid? TAA, Ansett (thanks Alona!), Waltons, McWhirter, TC Beirne’s, those heart-shaped lollies with writing on them (and yes, fags lollies), Persil washing powder, Reckitt’s blue bags, Lux flakes. I’m sure there are many I’ve forgotten.
Did you used to collect anything? (ie. rocks, shells, stickers … etc.) Shells and books. (see above) Now I feel very guilty about the environmental impact of shell collecting. Like Dad I still have a partiality for collecting the odd stone that takes my fancy.
Share your favourite childhood memory. Hmm,
this is a tough one. We’d sometimes go to a highpoint nearby and admire the city lights or the stars….one of Mum’s much-loved things to do. Or, at Easter, getting to eat all the lollies one had given up for Lent but kept stored in a jar….time for a pig-out. Getting special treats like tiny cups and saucers from my maternal great-aunt. Visiting New Farm Park with her and Mum and seeing the beautiful roses there. Helping Mum with the cake and biscuit baking on Saturdays….and licking the bowl. School fetes etc etc.
Sport: I was pretty rubbish at sport though I enjoyed informal sprints down the streets with the neighbourhood kids. I also learned to play tennis which I can’t say that I loved…or was very good at. Ditto swimming classes and swimming club at the Valley Pool….ugh.
Music: I learned to play the piano for a while with the nuns at my primary school. I remember playing chopsticks or Elvis Presley’s Wooden Heart on our neighbour’s piano with my friend. We would race to complete it in the shortest time possible -it’s a wonder her parents didn’t throw us out.
Games: Who remembers this game…it seems to be having a resurgence as we saw some in Sydney. http://youtu.be/X1DArckNWdM And then there was the introduction of hula hoops and yo-yos. And what about board games like snakes and ladders or Chinese chequers?
.Thanks Alona for this trip down memory lane. And thanks Mum for all the photos I have and my own love of photography.
Once again GeniAus has spurred us on to consider our geneachievements for 2014 and Accentuate the Positive. It’s all too easy to be daunted by the tasks ahead, or the (perceived?) deficiencies in our past year of research. It has made me realise that I achieved more than I thought – I tend to be a girl with a half-empty glass. Thanks Jill for encouraging us.
4. An importantvital record I found wasdiscovery I made was identifying the ship my ancestor’s sister arrived on. This was Bridget O’Brien, sister to Mary O’Brien on the Florentia….but why is her name not on the manifest?? And despite searching I’ve found not a single vital record/primary document.
5. A newly found family member shared mutual discoveries of our Dorfprozelten ancestry, another of DNA, another family photos. I also enjoyed connecting with an Aussie living in Sweden, who shares my Sydney cousin, but from the paternal rather than maternal line.
6. A geneasurprise I received was finding the clues which led to identifiying that Bridget O’Brien almost certainly arrived on the Florentia….it’s only taken 27 years to find a clue. Thanks Trove! I was also surprised to discover that George Kunkel had all his assets sold, possibly why they ended up following the railway line.
I had another railway geneasurprise when we visited Poperinghe station to see where my grandfather was stationed during World War I. In a WDYTYA moment, a railway worker spoke to us and provided me with print-outs of photos from that era. Our tour guide was more astonished than I was.
7. My 2014 blog posts that I was particularly proud of was the stories about the Florentia. You can read them here, here and here and the one that started it, on 29 December 2013.
8. My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was….my blog likes went up, my comments went down, possibly partly because I’ve been a neglectful commenter lately. Probably the best was my 5th blogiversary post recently with my goals and reflections. In a more general context I was proud of my Three Rs of Genealogical Research on the collaborative Worldwide Genealogy blog in September…it attracted lots of interest.
9. A new piece of software I mastered was…not sure I did. Even though I’m using Evernote a lot now, I’m quite sure I haven’t mastered it. I bought the offline version before we went travelling and it was pure gold for keeping track of documents, travel arrangements etc.
10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Pinterest, when I just want a chill-out and fun. I’m enjoying Facebook far more now I’m in touch with my genimates.
12. I am proud of the presentation I gave on the UTP February Cruise. The subject was Becoming a fan of FANs which the attendees told me they really enjoyed. You can read my presentation slides here. I also really enjoyed Jill Ball’s “fireside” chat where people shared their favourite books.
A journal/magazine article I had published was…none.
I taught a friend how to…not sure…I often seem to be rabbiting on to people about how a geniechallenge might be pursued.
18. It was exciting to finally meet lots of my genimates on the UTP cruise as well as a new cousin in Melbourne. I was also pleased to spend time with other genimates on shore during the year, as well as meeting Angela from The Silver Voice in Brisbane.
19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was going cruising for the first time with a bunch of mates following our genie-obsession. On ship or on shore, we had a ton of fun!
20. Another positive I would like to share is how our Kiva Genealogists for Families’ loans have grown as the repayments have been reinvested. Over Christmas I roped in my two older grandchildren and got them to help me to make December’s loans. I will make a habit of this over 2015 to try to teach them about giving to those in need.
I was also very pleased to be listed in Inside History’s Top 50 blogs again in 2014 and consequently earning an entry in their Hall of Fame. This was topped off by being voted in as a Genealogy Rockstar again in 2014, even though I think there are many other equally good geneabloggers out there in the geneaworld.
My friend Sharn from FamilyHistory4Ublog has set us all a Christmas geneameme challenge.In previous years I’ve posted on the Geneabloggers’ Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories and this meme offers a change of pace for me. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to check with mum on a couple of the questions.
1. What kind of Christmas did you have as a child?
Christmas was always a religious event at our house with Midnight Mass and adoration on Christmas Eve. I’d often pester my father, who was a non-Catholic, to come with us….poor man, he got no Christmas peace. Our Christmas celebrations were pretty low key as we have a small extended family and so it was usually just roast dinner with Christmas pudding and cake.
Where did you spend Christmas?
We always spent Christmas at home, apart from when we’d visit my maternal grandfather’s house across town – no mean feat on a public holiday using public transport. Mum tells me we mainly did this before her mother died, and only occasionally after that, which surprises me that I can remember, as I was only a small child when she died.
The maximum number of people we had were my own family, plus grandfather and sometimes one set of maternal aunts and uncles and cousins, so between 7 and 11 tops. For the life of me I can’t remember my paternal grandparents, who lived next door, being invited to partake in Christmas lunch….don’t go there, sigh…perhaps Grandma came over after Grandad died. Mum tells me the rellies would come over on Boxing Day mostly.
When I was a child we never went away on holidays at this time of year because it was peak period and expensive.
When we lived in Brisbane I used to dislike (hate/loathe) sitting in the northbound traffic to visit rellies, while the southbound freeway was totally free.
Mostly we’re at home for Christmas, though once when we lived in Papua New Guinea and once (or twice?) since we’ve been in Darwin, we’ve been back to Brisbane for Christmas. Once we had a white Christmas in Lucerne (some of the family) and once Himself and I returned from a trip on Christmas Eve, just a tiny bit jetlagged. And a few years ago we had Christmas in Tasmania with DD1.
A letter and something yummy for Santa
I may have written to Santa (surely everyone did?) but I have no recollection of doing so. We certainly didn’t leave anything out for Santa or the reindeer – I remember being a bit mystified to find that other people did that.
The Christmas Tree
Yes, we always had a Christmas Tree and it was always a small gum tree (eucalyptus) from down the creek bank near our house I’m pretty sure we only put it up close to Christmas so it would survive.
We still maintain our family tradition of putting up the tree together, though now it’s an artificial one, and we always decorate it while playing Christmas music. It basically stays up over Advent.
Decorating the Christmas Tree
Mum and I would decorate the tree together as Dad would either be on shift-work or think he was too clumsy. I think we had a mix of handmade and special glass baubles. I see in one photo we had balloons – I guess gum trees are less spikey than firs.
We have a wide variety of Christmas tree decorations – no colour-coordinated themes for the Cass mob. Some go back to the first year of our marriage, some were made by our children, some were gifts and quite a few have been brought back from our travels which has become a family tradition, helped by the fact we often travel off-season.
Did you decorate outdoors?
Not really. I think we may have had some sort of wreath but no lights as they were not readily available then, as far as I know. I don’t remember anyone else doing it either, unless it was those paper chains we made as kids…but then it is the rainy season in Queensland (and Darwin). These days we put up a wreath and solar lights in the frangipani.
7 Christmas Cards
Mum would write our Christmas cards and send them to a small group of family and friends…she has amazingly neat writing, even in her advanced years. What did we do with them? Hmmm, I think we may have cut them up and used them for craft and Mum would save the stamps and send them to the Missions. If I remember correctly they were hung on tinsel with our clock in the centre (why, I don’t know).
Remember when the postie would do two mail “runs” a day in the stinking heat of a Brisbane summer? We would always have a cold drink for him when he came by with his big pack…I think he was more like Santa than Santa himself.
These days I send electronic cards to some, paper cards to the older generation and try to ring my interstate friends for a catch-up chat…more fun, and informative, than a card.
No, I never had a Christmas stocking other than those ones you bought in the shops with little round lollies, blowers, cartoons etc, which I really liked. All our presents would go under the tree. In my husband’s family there would be one gift at the bottom of the kids’ beds and they were told when they first woke up they could open that and read (it was usually a book). We maintained that tradition too, but the joy of Midnight Mass is that it makes the kids too tired to wake up super-early.
9. Christmas Presents
I got presents from Mum and Dad and Santa, something from my grandparents and a small gift from my aunts and uncles, and I would swap gifts with close friends. I think I made small gifts for my parents and I remember the first time I was able to go shopping in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley for gifts for my parents. Mum’s confirmed we didn’t do gifts for the nuns who taught me.
I remember that it was traditional to always leave out some beer as gifts for the garbos in those days when they had to carry the bins and empty them manually. The milko also got something.
These days we’ve rationalised our family present buying: the adults exchange a secret Santa gift to a limited amount and I swap presents with some of my friends. Ironically my oldest friend and I don’t do presents any more – we ran out of inventiveness – but if we see something during the year we’ll buy it at the time.
Each year we have a craft session with the grandchildren when they make gifts for their parents. They seem to have a good time and so do we. I remember some school holidays when the girls were young and we had chaos while neighbourhood kids made fymo necklaces and decorations.
Your favourite Christmas Present
Well I’d be stretching it being confident about this but one I very much remember was a large Readers Digest book on animals. I was desperate that it would be among my gifts and was thrilled when I did, but was it a Christmas or birthday gift? I still have it in my library.
Actually my favourite Christmas present was always a book, any book. A sad Christmas would be one with no book (don’t think that every happened). I still have many of them, especially some from one of Mum’s close friends.
Was there an unrealistic present you wanted but never received?
I was going to say “no” but on further reflection, every year I wished for a baby sister or brother but it never happened. Obviously that was not in God’s plan for our family.
12. Did you give gifts to teachers and friends at school?
I thought I might have given presents to the nuns in high school but mum thinks not, and since she would have done the buying (what mum doesn’t?) then I’d guess not. I don’t think it was the almost compulsory activity it has been with our children onwards. Perhaps we just gave them a holy Christmas card.
Again, close friends exchanged gifts but the wider circle of girls would exchange holy pictures with messages on them.
Now this I do remember!
Despite the heat we always had a hot Christmas meal. Chicken was an expensive treat in those days and I don’t recall anyone having turkey or seafood. Roast potatoes, carrots and onions with peas for vegetables. Steamed Christmas pudding, custard and cream for dessert (yes please Dad would say, meaning all three). Shortbread was made according to my Scottish grandmother’s recipe and we would always have crystallised ginger on the table….one of Mum’s favourites. Dad might have a beer (remember that Scottish mother) but no one else had anything alcoholic.
We always had our meal inside on a formally dressed table with all my parents’ quality linen and crystal…one of the few times each year that the crystal made an appearance.
A special Christmas Recipe
Yes we made the shortbread (see above) which I still make to Grandma’s recipe. The pudding was also her recipe and is a delicious, moist version. Mum made the same delicious Christmas cake for decades which I also made until I found a new recipe for a Green Peppercorn Christmas Cake which we really like but which no longer likes me…sigh.
Bon bons were always on the table too with their usual sad jokes but still fun. We didn’t go carolling – that was done around the church services and we also listened to them at home.
And yes, grace before and after meals –always, not just at Christmas.
In Papua New Guinea where we were all far from our families of origin, we would hold Christmas gatherings of friends and rotate through different households from year to year. It was always great fun.
Me, in a choir?? Thank heavens, no! Mum has a good voice and I would sing at home but that was it. Dad was tone deaf unfortunately and couldn’t even carry a tune. We would listen to the music on LPs once we got a player and one of our first Christmas records was one which included Oh Tannenbaum. That was when I was learning German so I guess we got it when I was in Grade 10.
At church in Brisbane the band would play carols before and during Mass, but then let rip with the liveliest ones as the Mass ended.
It’s a shame that the abuse of Christmas carols in shops as a marketing ploy has taken the edge off our enjoyment of such a happy part of Christmas.
For a very long time our family would go to Carols by Candlelight in the park in Brisbane – our youngest even went when she was only a few weeks old. It was a very special part of our family’s Christmas tradition until it became way too commercialised and tacky.
We love listening to a CD we have of Carols from Oxford…just so relaxing.
Your favourite Christmas Carol
Can I remember that far back? I guess the traditional ones like Silent Night and Away in a Manger then as a teenager Oh Tannenbaum. As an adult, Feliz Navidad, the Little Drummer Boy, and Mary’s Boy Child are my absolute favourites.
Our family didn’t do parties, period. I remember being taken to the Railway Club where I got presents but not every year. I was in Guides but again, I have no recollection of having parties there.
Hmm, I guess I contradicted myself with the Gerehu parties above, but then I didn’t really see them as parties per se.
Mum confirmed for me that we didn’t have Christmas concerts at my primary school, only St Patrick’s Day ones. We didn’t have them at All Hallows’ because every second year was the state-wide exam so we all finished school on different days.
20. Christmas Holidays
As I mentioned, we never went away over the summer holidays so mine were spent hanging around the house, playing with the kids who also were at home. I remember that at least once we went up to my aunt and uncle’s camp site at Noosa, right in the midst of what is now a very upmarket resort. My cousin says we stayed with them at least once, but I only remember visiting.
I loved it when I got books as Christmas presents and could just hide from the heat and read…not that mum was so keen on that idea when there were jobs to be done <smile>. One Christmas in high school I read an entire collection of Dickens’ books which my cousin had left with us to mind. Since I read books like a glutton at a smorgasborg I’ve forgotten much of what I read.
21 What is your earliest Christmas memory?
Whew, my brain is stretched from all these questions….I don’t have a specific memory but I guess it might be the year I got my bride doll.
Thanks Sharn for inventing this meme for us. I’m looking forward to seeing what others have written – it’s so interesting to see the things we have in common, and the ways we differ.
Here is my own response to my National Family History Month (NFHM) geneameme. I’ll be collating all the responses in a couple of weeks but if you want to read them in the meantime you can check the links in the comments.
What are you doing for NFHM?This meme is my contribution to NFHM. There’s not much happening in the NT and I’ve been caught up with live-family activities when some of the online activities have occurred. I’ve registered for Shauna’s Golden Rules of Genealogy Webinar. Meanwhile I’m working at getting my blog back on track after a few disrupted months and my “To Do” list just keeps getting longer.
What do you hope to learn in NFHM?Anything to help with my family history –new ideas/ inspiration. I’m checking out Shauna’s 31 activities list to see what inspires me.
Have you any special research projects on the go? I’ve recently done some German research for an American descendant of a Dorfprozelten family. It’s also time I got back to my East Clare Emigrants blog and add more of the news stories I’ve collected from Trove. I’m also working on a paper I’m giving at Queensland Family History Society on 4 October. Geniaus has just reminded me, in her response, that I’m supposed to be doing One Place Studies for Dorfprozelten and Broadford…something that is kind-of progressing with my East Clare blog and ad hoc Dorfprozelten posts.
Do you research at a family or local history library? As and when something needs to be followed up offline these days…not as much as in the pre-Trove, pre-internet days.
Do you do all your research online? Not at all…I love offline research but being a long way from my main research places means that it occurs sporadically.
What’s your favourite place to store your family tree? I’m a bit weird and retro – I like to keep a lot in hard copy though I also keep digital images and documents. I’m still sitting on the fence with this. I don’t have my tree online at all…I figure my blog is my “cousin bait”.
If offline, which genealogy program do you use?Do tell us its strengths/weaknesses if you like. I’ve used an Australian program, Relatively Yours, for decades because it was an innovator in making it possible to store more than base biographical data for people. It still allows for more challenging relationships than some others. Its weakness is that because of its quirkier data I find the gedcoms don’t always import well. However I also have copies of Family Historian and The Master Genealogist. The challenge of having decades of stored information is entering it all into a program….excuses, excuses.
How do you preserve your family stories for future generations? I’ve published my Kunkel family history as a hard-copy book and I’ve also printed off family histories for some of my other families, just for my own family’s reference. Mainly I now use my blog to tell the stories of my families, and others I research.
What is your favourite family history research activity? The actual research and problem solving. I like that it keeps your brain active and keeps you in learning mode.
What is your favourite family history research place/library etc? That’s like choosing between your children! Queensland State Archives followed by Queensland State Library or one of the Queensland family history societies. Locally I’ve been a big user of the Darwin Family History Centre where I can read any of the microfilms I order in through Family Search.
Are you part of a Facebook genealogy group? If so which one? A few: Clare Genealogy Group, Wexford Genealogy Group and our Dorfprozelten Diaspora group. I also have lots of my genie friends I follow.
Do you use webinars or podcasts for genealogy? Any tips? My favourite is Maria Northcote’s excellent Genies Down Under. Tips? Invent more hours in the day to find more time to listen to more of these, and others.
Do you use social media? I’m on Facebook, Google+,Twitter, Pinterest and LinkdIn though I think I’m very neglectful of them as I try to balance my time with them against my research priorities. You’ll find me by name or as my aka, cassmob. I also love reading blog posts and use Feedly to keep track of them.
What genealogy topic/class have you learnt the most from this year (webinar/conference/seminar)? This is a tricky one and rather than single out one I’d say the presentations on the Unlock the Past cruise in February. You can find my posts here. I thoroughly enjoyed the final talk by Chris Paton on his fascinating study of Ruhleben Internment Camp.
Do you have a favourite research strategy to knock down your brick walls? I like to revisit my notes occasionally because things make more sense retrospectively. I’m not a believer in searching once and never again because I think you find new things on revised searches. My top tip would be to branch out to your ancestor’s kin and friendship network as that may be what helps you out.
Have you used DNA testing for your genealogy?Yes I’ve done the family finder test with Family Tree DNA.
Have you made cousin connections through your DNA tests? There are lots of reasonably close matches but it’s sometimes difficult to pin down the connections. I recently had my mother’s DNA tested along with an Irish-descended cousin. Another 3rd cousin has also had hers done so I can see where we overlap – I find having known rellies makes it easier to start unravelling the potential. I hope to write a post on this soon.
Do you have a wish list of topics for NFHM 2015? I’d be interested in a webinar on oral history and more offline options, though I’m hoping to be closer to more societies by NFHM 2015.
What do you most love about family history research? The thrill of the chase and slowly unravelling a sense of what an ancestor might have been like by unearthing records about their lives and times.
Now I’m back on my blogging feet I felt the need for a meme….after all, it’s ages since we had one! What better time than National Family History Month (NFHM)? Tucked away in the Top End I don’t have quite the smorgasbord of options available interstate, so this is my contribution.
Here goes, who wants to meme with me? I’ll collate the answers in a couple of weeks to give you time to participate around other events…hopefully it will be fun, easy and quick to complete.
Don’t forget to leave a link to your post in the comments!
What are you doing for NFHM?
What do you hope to learn in NFHM?
Do you research at a family or local history library?
Do you do all your research online?
What’s your favourite place to store your family tree?
If offline, which genealogy program do you use? (do tell us its strengths/weaknesses if you like)
How do you preserve your family stories for future generations?
Have you any special research projects on the go?
What is your favourite family history research activity?
What is your favourite family history research place/library etc?
What is your favourite website for genealogy research?
Are you part of a Facebook genealogy group? If so which one?
Do you use webinars or podcasts for genealogy? Any tips?
Do you use social media? eg Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn
What genealogy topic/class have you learnt the most from this year at a webinar/conference/seminar?
Do you have a favourite research strategy to knock down your brick walls?
Have you used DNA testing for your genealogy?
Have you made cousin connections through your DNA tests?
Do you have a wish list of topics for NFHM 2015?
What do you most love about your family history research?
There’s been a great response to my impromptu Australia Day 2014 geneameme “C’mon Aussie”. I had intended it to be quick and easy given quite a few people are preparing for next week’s Unlock the Past Cruise. However, judging on people’s comments, it’s obvious that it wasn’t quite the quick outing I envisaged. It caught me by surprise too, especially the info on the length of voyages which I hadn’t looked at this way before.
The diversity of responses has been amazing and I’ve been pleased to see a couple of links to our Indigenous Australians. From all the lands on earth earth we come indeed though even now our UK heritage is evident.
Please, if I’ve missed you from my comments, twitter or Google+, do let me know so I can add your post to the list with my apologies. There’s some great ideas among the responses for presenting your ancestral information, so why not enjoy your Australia Day public holiday and have a look at a few.
All blogs are in alpha order except for Shelley from Twigs of Yore who initiated the concept in 2011. Helen Smith picked up the baton in 2013 and hopefully next year someone else might come up with an innovative idea, unless Shelley wants to return to the fray.
Earlier this week I posed a geneameme challenge to encourage Aussie bloggers to celebrate Australia Day 2014. It’s been great to see all the responses so far, which I’ll collate and post early next week. Meanwhile here’s my own response to the challenge.Since my roots go deep in Queensland soil, perhaps my family tree should be a Moreton Bay fig.
My first ancestor who arrived in Australia is: Now likely to be Mary O’Brien but previously was the Kent family from Sandon who arrived on the General Hewitt in December 1854,
I have Australian Royalty (tell us who, how many and which Fleet they arrived with): No royalty in my gene pool though Mr Cassmob can claim a couple, one Irish and one English (a Pentonvillean).
I’m an Aussie mongrel, my ancestors came to Oz from: Ireland, England, Scotland and Germany.
Did any of your ancestors arrive under their own financial steam? Not as far as I can determine, unless George Kunkel didn’t swim after all. Otherwise I have assisted and nominated passengers. Mary O’Brien’s fare may have been paid for her, if I have the correct voyage, as she’s not among the assisted immigrants.
How many ancestors came as singles? Three (George Kunkel, William Partridge and Mary O’Brien, though her sister travelled with her)
How many came as couples? None
How many came as family groups? Six: two Sherry families (a year apart), the Kents (Herts), Gavins (Dublin), Melvins (Leith) and McCorkindales (Glasgow).
Did one person lead the way and others follow? The McCorkindale sons Duncan and Peter arrived in Sydney in 1900 and Peter later moved to Brisbane. Ten years later their mother and siblings arrived in Brisbane. With my O’Brien family there is a typical Irish chain migration with a younger sibling following the older ones, and from one generation to the next (nieces and nephews).
What’s the longest journey they took to get here? Assuming my Mary O’Brien did arrive on the Florentia, then her voyage was the longest at 5.5 months. Somewhat bizarrely in researching this question I’ve discovered that five of my immigrant groups took either 106 or 107 days, even though their arrival years, and decades, were quite different. My five-month old grandfather had the luck of the Irish as his journey only took 49 days in 1884 on the British-India ship, the Almora.
Did anyone make a two-step emigration via another place?None in my own family tree, unless George Kunkel travelled via the UK or USA. However I’ve seen it in other families I research – immigration records offer great clues to this.
Which state(s)/colony did your ancestors arrive? All my direct ancestors arrived in the Moreton Bay colony, later Queensland.
Did they settle and remain in one state/colony? With one exception they all remained in Queensland. My Melvin great-grandfather moved to Sydney late in life (after the death of his second wife, Emily). He’d been in Queensland for forty odd years.
Did they stay in one town or move around? My ancestors were a mob of gad-abouts. The railway work would explain a great deal, but even some of the self-employed moved around. Only two families stayed put to any extent: the Kents and Partridges in Ipswich.
Do you have any First Australians in your tree? No
Were any self-employed? Yes, my Kunkels (at times), Melvins and possibly Partridge.
What occupations or industries did your earliest ancestors work in? The railway is my number one industry with merchant seamen in close pursuit. Stephen Gillespie Melvin had been a merchant seaman and ship’s steward. He owned confectionery businesses/pastry shops in Ipswich, Charters Towers and Sydney. He also dabbled, unsuccessfully, in mining. George Kunkel tried his hand at running a boarding house and also had a “highly operative sausage machine” in Ipswich, as well as selling meat to the miners at Talloom gold fields. The family later had a farm at Murphys Creek, Qld. William Partridge was a carpenter and a sometime undertaker.
Does anyone in the family still follow that occupation? I’m the first Kunkel, and the first McSherry, in my direct family line to have no employment with Queensland Rail. There are still a few Kunkels involved in farming. I do wish someone still worked as a confectioner though.
Did any of your ancestors leave Australia and go “home”?None made a permanent return that I know of. My Stephen Melvin made regular trips back to England and Scotland for business and to see the brother who remained there.
NOW IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU
What’s your State of Origin? Queensland. (Yes, I’m a banana bender…go the mighty Maroons!)
Do you still live there?Not for the past 17 years, though we plan to return there in a year or so. I’m a maroon boomerang.
Any special place(s) you like to holiday now? In Australia, Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, Lennox Heads in NSW or quick trips to Kakadu in the NT.
Share your favourite spot in Oz: Camping at Hastings Point in northern NSW is one of them…so many choices. Perhaps also the mid-north coast of Western Australia –their beaches are spectacular, which is quite a concession from a Queenslander.
G’day cobbers, how’re you going? Hope you’re feeling grouse. Australia Day is coming up so it’s time for another dinkum-Aussie challenge. Since quite a few of us are gearing up for the next Unlock the Past cruise, I thought I’d make it a quick and easy geneameme for those who wish to participate, eh.
Let’s see how deep your roots go into our Aussie soil. Do you have Australian Royalty?
If for you Australia Day is Survival Day, tell us your family’s story and show up our Johnny-come-lately status.
The geneameme comes in two parts: one to test whether your family is ridgey-didge and the second to show us how Australia runs in your veins, without any flag-waving and tattoo-wearing. Shout it out, be proud and make everyone wish they lived in this wide brown land of ours.
Feel free to add and subtract and even add a short story at the end. The world’s your oyster, so have a go! C’mon Aussie C’mon C’mon.
CLIMBING YOUR FAMILY’S GUM TREE
My first ancestor to arrive in Australia was:
I have Australian Royalty (tell us who, how many and which Fleet they arrived with):
I’m an Aussie mongrel, my ancestors came to Oz from:
Did any of your ancestors arrive under their own financial steam?
How many ancestors came as singles?
How many came as couples?
How many came as family groups?
Did one person lead the way and others follow?
What’s the longest journey they took to get here?
Did anyone make a two-step emigration via another place?
Which state(s)/colony did your ancestors arrive?
Did they settle and remain in one state/colony?
Did they stay in one town or move around?
Do you have any First Australians in your tree?
Were any self-employed?
What occupations or industries did your earliest ancestors work in?
Does anyone in the family still follow that occupation?
Did any of your ancestors leave Australia and go “home”?
NOW IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU
What’s your State of Origin?
Do you still live there?
Where was your favourite Aussie holiday place as a child?
Any special place you like to holiday now?
Share your favourite spot in Oz:
Any great Aussie adventure you’ve had?
What’s on your Australian holiday bucket list?
How do you celebrate Australia Day?
I’ve just realised that entirely coincidentally I came up with 26 questions for 26 January…how bizarre is that!
Feel free to post your responses any time in the coming week and I’ll collate them on the Australia Day holiday. Please leave a message about your post in the comments (WP.com doesn’t like linky lists). Otherwise use twitter tag #ozday2014. Thanks for joining in mate.
Thanks to Rebel Hand for inspiring me for the midnight inspiration to set up this challenge, following in the 2013 steps of Helen Smith and Shelley from Twigs of Yore in 2012 and 2011. ( Psst, there’s still scope for someone else to add another, non-geneameme, challenge for the day).