Deck the Halls: 2017 Christmas geneameme

Baby Jesus in mangerBack in 2012 when I was blogging prolifically I created this geneameme. I was delighted that Randy Seaver from Geneamusings used it for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. Thanks for reviving it, Randy.

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. What’s your favourite Christmas music? A burst of the Messiah is hard to beat!
  6. 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).
  7. Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read? Not really.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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 the Caloundra Family History society – far more fun than work functions.
  18. 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.
  19. Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue? No.
  20. 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.
  21. Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)? Not that I recall.
  22. 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.
  23. Do you have snow for Christmas where you live? I wish – but it would be rather a shock in the sub-tropics.
  24. Do you have a Christmas tree every year? Absolutely!
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.

SNGF: Christmas Tree Family and Places

Randy at Genea-Musings has a weekly challenge: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week he was inspired by Leslie Ann at Ancestors Live Here blog and her Wordless Wednesday Surname Tree.

This is my offering, created in Tagxedo and edited and decorated in Photoshop. I also did one for my Dorfprozelten to Australia blog, with the names of all those who left the village for Australia in the 1850s and 1860s. You’ll find it here.

I have done some of my family names here, including the names from different marriages but accidentally forgetting Dalziel. And since one thing inevitably leads to another, I thought I’d put my family places into a tree as well. So here are my creations for this week’s SNGF. Thanks Randy and especially Leslie Ann for the inspiration.

Created using Tagxedo in combination with Photoshop.

Created using Tagxedo in combination with Photoshop.

Created using Tagxedo and Photoshop.

Created using Tagxedo and Photoshop.

Happy Christmas One and All

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Names

It’s quite a while since I’ve participated in the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun series by Randy Seaver from Genea-Musings but it looked like fun and I had a bit of time so here goes (and yes, it’s no longer Saturday).

The challenge for this week was:

1)                Go to the Baby Name Wizard site and see how popular your name was over the 20th century, and how popular a baby name it is today.  

Image from Wikipedia Commons.

My name, Pauleen/Pauline is very much a generational name. The only mitigating feature is that my family decided to spell mine differently. I like to say that it’s the Irish way, like Maureen, Kathleen or Colleen. The truth was rather more mundane but it works for me <grin>.  There were no entries on Baby Name Wizard under this spelling so I reverted to the normal version, Pauline.

I was a little surprised to discover that the height of my name’s popularity was in the 1910s when it was ranked #134, possibly because of the movie series, the Perils of Pauline.

The name has virtually flat-lined in the US today but retains #38 in Belgium, #57 in Germany and #328 in Norway, which is kind of weird really. Perhaps it’s a case of my German heritage coming through?

2)  What does your name mean?

Pauline is the diminutive of Paul so really means “little little” –which is ironic since I’m quite tall, and no longer quite thin. Apart from which I have a complete antipathy to the misogynistic St Paul. Definitely a double whammy misnomer! I don’t have a second name so I’m stuck with what I’ve got. Eventually I realised I’d have liked to have a variation of Catherine –a name which runs in all my family lines –and the very name my mother want to avoid…ironic isn’t it.

 Also check out your spouse, your children and your grandchildren 

As suggested by Randy, I looked at my husband’s, children’s and grandchildren’s names as well which was interesting. I’m not going to list their names in this post but here are some of my findings:

Mr Cassmob: An old-fashioned name with cyclical popularity: #41 in his birth decade but now sitting at #192.

Daughter #1: A name which peaked in the 1880s and flat-lined in the decade she was born. The alternate name we’d thought of doesn’t rank at all, yet there are three daughters born to our friends who have this name. She’s not on a name-winner because her second name is almost as unpopular, and no, neither of them is “weird”.

Daughter #2: Peaking in the 1980s and #33 in the decade of her birth, we obviously hit upon a more popular name this time round.

Daughter #3:  Her name was in the top 10 in Australia when she was born (not why she was given the name), and the graph reflects this with a US position at #13.

The grandchildren are also variable with the eldest grandson not even on the scale, while our granddaughter’s name is top of the pops at #1. Our youngest grandson’s name sat at #98 the year he was born, so they’re spread across the spectrum.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet“. Did Mr Shakespeare have it right?

What type of genealogist am I?

A short while ago Lorine from Olive Tree Genealogy posed the question “What type of genealogist are you?” Randy Seaver then picked it up on Genea-musings as part of the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun theme.  So belatedly here is my response.

After some reflection, and a rather arbitrary division of my research attributes, this is the breakdown I came up with. 


I can happily trace anyone’s family history….I love the thrill of the chase and the sleuthing out of clues. Over the years I’ve stuck my nose in a number of family history pies, and written up stories for various of my friends who are interested to know the back story without the hunting for clues.


My definition of this is probably slightly differently from Lorine’s. It’s not just about the citations though they’re important. It’s also about the historical context in which our ancestors lived so I’m forever referring to books, journals, etc etc. I’m not too fond of the dreaded red pen of editing, but I’m not afraid of it either.


Again, a slightly different interpretation –I may not confine myself to one piece of information progressively but I will squeeze it to get the maximum output from it, and revisit from time to time to see it with fresh eyes.


Hang my head in shame, but I have a small streak of hoarder. I’ll happily share until I feel ripped off by someone – you know, no thanks, no acknowledgement, all take and no give, poor research practices.  Then I’ll withdraw and go into hoarder mode.


Another dollar-each-way bet. On some things I can be very methodical with lots of checklists and strategies. At other times I can be much less so.

Given the computing debacle of the past week I’m thinking I should reassess this component but then like the girl with the curl in the nursery rhyme, sometimes I’m good and sometimes I’m horrid.

Junkyard collector

I’m pleased to report I don’t even have one tiny bit of junkyard collector in me. It doesn’t faze me at all that my family tree doesn’t include thousands of names. I’m going for depth and quality – not mutually exclusive but not uncommon in those online family trees.