One of the best ways to get started writing your genealogy memoirs is to start with a Christmas memory, a few memorable moments from the past. Choose a Christmas Day from your youth; allow your mind to freely wander, recapturing the sweet sounds of carols, bright colors of the season, and gifts of peace, love and hope from the era.
Make a few notes including the year, the place, the people in the memory, and anything else you can remember. Then use your notes to turn your memory into a short story.
The following short story is an example of a Christmas memory I jotted down a few years ago, long before I knew I would one day be a published writer.
Christmas 1953…Perry Como croons, “Oh Holy Night,” right in our very own living room. Mom and Dad, not completely convinced the newfangled invention called television is here to stay, have moved the trusty old radio only as far as the dining room. “Truly a miracle,” Mom murmurs, enchanted with the black and white snowy screen.
“Where do you want it?” Dad, stomping snow off his boots and hanging onto a freshly cut, sweet-scented, green spruce, hollers from the kitchen.
As Mom shows him the selected spot for this year’s Christmas tree, I whip on my snowsuit, speedily lace my figure skates, and flee—sailing down the street to the Dober Mining Location ice rink next to Trebilcock’s house—making my getaway until the strands of lights have all been unsnarled, sorted, and clipped to the tree.
Dad grapples, gripes, and grumbles, untangling the mess from the previous year, while I, skidding safely along the ice, hum, “Joy to the World,” and calculate the minutes until I’m sure the lights are strung in perfect symmetry. Only then, do I venture back to smooth the silver icicles with my little sister Connie, hang the old pink and lavender swirled balls, and watch while Dad plugs in the cord.
The lights flash on, flicker, and fade. Breathless, anxious, the family waits while Dad—grinding his teeth—screws a “good” bulb into each socket until at last the little tree is full-blown with multi-colored light. It is a masterpiece; its shining stars sparkle in celebration, illuminating, reflecting Dad’s grin which spreads from ear to ear.
Christmas 2008…It is recalling moments such as these and writing them down that has helped me turn our family genealogy into a history filled not only with important facts but also with special stories. These stories, while simple moments in time, are the essence of who we are and, once recorded, will be long cherished with all the joys of the holiday season.
This article was written by guest author Coralie Johnson. Coralie is the award winning author of two books, The Wishing Years and A Tree Grows in Trout Creek. The books are collections of stories about growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Other works by the author have appeared in various publications: Detroit News, Peninsula People Magazine, Porcupine Press, Above the Bridge Magazine, McCall’s, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Decorating and Crafts, American Legion Auxiliary, Love and Money Needlecrafters’ Magazine, and Workbasket.