Tag Archives: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

December 22, 2009 Christmas and Deceased Relatives

Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?

In 2003 we lost my father in law in January and my brother in law in December. Our family comes together in early January and we have a luncheon to remember both of them. We light a memory candle for each of them. Sometimes, someone will read a poem and other times, we talk about the memories we have of each of them. 

In December, as part of our Christmas gift, my Mother in law gets each of her boys (and their families) a hotel room downtown. We spend time from the afternoon until late morning early afternoon the next day together. We always go out to a nice dinner, sometimes we go see a Broadway in Chicago production, other times we just go and see the lights in the city. The adults stay up late, enjoying the lobby and talking about the past year and what  lies ahead for the new one. We really enjoy this time together, and everyone looks forward to it each year.

Having loved ones pass around the holiday is a terrible thing. Instead of completely enjoying the holiday around us, some sort of the day ends up with “why did this have to happen around the holidays?”


December 20, 2009 Christmas Music

Today’s post for the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories is on Christmas Music. What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?

When I was younger, Elmo and Patsy recorded Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. It was probably the first record I had purchased. Christmas Eve came and we went to my Grandparents house and I was so excited to play this on the record player. My Grandma hated this song, but I played it year after year. Until the record disappeared. My guess, Grandma found it and put it in the trash. Though Grandma hates this song, I call and sing it to her every year! Well, fast forward to our current year, Grandma states that “It just isn’t Christmas until I call and sing” this song to her.

For fun, I thought I would add a few songs that make my kids laugh. We look forward to hearing them on the radio each holiday season.

As kids, we went caroling with other kids that we went to school with. We loved singing and being silly with each other. I wish I was young enough to go out and just be silly with my friends.

December 17, 2009 Another Grab Bag

Today’s posting for the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories in a Grab Bag. Genea Bloggers has asked us to post anything that helps us think of Christmases past.


For today’s Grab Bag post, my thoughts go to looking at the store holiday window displays. Growing up in Chicago has definite perks. As a child, one of my favorite parts of the holiday was to go downtown and look at all the shops holiday window displays. State Street was always brightly lit. I continued this tradition with friends once I was in high school and had friends who were able to drive.


Marshall Fields always had the best windows. It was always themed around some holiday story. Below is a photo of one window from last years display, which I believe was centered around the Nutcracker.

Sometimes we would also take a horse and carriage ride from the Old Water tower around downtown looking at the lights as well. I prefer this method of checking the lights out. With the blanket inside the carriage, it is much warmer then walking in the snow, with the wind and below zero temperatures. 


 This photo was taken a few years back on one of our trips downtown with the whole family.

December 18, 2009 The Other Holiday Happenings

My eldest child, Brittany, was born a short 14 days after Christmas on January 8, 1989. This birthday is the big one, 21! How did that happen so fast, I swear it was just yesterday I was running after her trying to keep the ponytail holders in her hair. Little girls, they are a handful and a joy all at once. Though she is now in college and doing her own thing. I am so proud of her. She is the second child in our family working towards a college diploma. I know that for many families this seems strange, but in my family everyone got married and had babies early. Brittany has 1.5 years left for her under graduate and we will see where she goes from there. Granny passed away 2.5 years after this photo was taken. 

Three generation photo

Brittany, Linda, Terri 

November 2009


Novemeber 1989

Terri, Mary Lachney, Brittany

This picture was taken in OH, in 1989.  Brittany was 9 months old. The dress she is wearing still hangs in our house. My Mom bought the dress for her Uncle’s funeral, which is why we were in OH. On this day, we were lucky enough to take a 5 generation photo. Not only was it 5 generations, but it was 5 generations of women! This picture is generation 1 (Mary), generation 4 (Me) and generation 5 (Brittany).

As for her birthday’s, I do not feel any of them were ever small because we just had a holiday. All in all, I think we did a great job making sure her day was special. We never celebrated it during the holiday either, we celebrated the week of her birthday with special dinners out, maybe a play and even a Broadway in Chicago show!




Another birthday that is celebrated around the holidays is my Mom’s. This year Mom is turning 60! See her picture above with Brittany and myself. It seems like Mom’s birthday was always lumped in with Christmas when we were growing up. My parents were divorced and we lived with my Dad, so we had to give Mom her birthday present at Christmas. This year is different! Mom has moved out of state and our plan is to go and see her. It was going to be a surprise, but Grandma has been diagnosed with Lung Cancer, so Mom now knows we are coming because she had to help me pick dates that would be better for a visit with Grandma. I plan to still make her 60th very special!


December 11, 2009 Other Traditions

Today’s Advent Calender asks:

Did your family or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions form their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?

Our family never celebrated any other traditions during the Christmas season. 

The only holiday tradition that I  recall is from my German family. Grandma Ida would always hang stockings on her mantle for all of the grandchildren.  On Christmas morning, those stockings would be full of oranges, walnuts and a few small toys. Since Grandma died when I was 8, I never understood why she did this. After she passed, my Dad never continued with this tradition or stockings at all. As I got older I always thought she filled the stockings this way because money was tight. She did not work and Grandpa had passed many years before. I figured this was how she made her money stretch. About 5 years ago, I was talking with a friend about this. She chuckled and asked if I was German. When I replied that I was, she told me that this was a St Nick thing. I felt foolish, but Grandma was the only one left from the German side of my family. I guess I should have asked more questions as a child. 

What I learned about traditions in my life: Explain them to your children so they understand why we do what we do!

December 9, 2009 Grab Bag

Genea Bloggers, Advent Calender of Christmas Memories topic for the day is a Grab Bag. The directions are:

Author’s choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!

For my grab bag story, I have chosen the memories of my Grandpa, Larry O’Connell, who died when I was about 4 years old. There are a few things that I remember about him and some of them center around winter. The first memory is of him waking me in the middle of the night when we would get our first snow. He loved how clean and peaceful that snow is. Last year, when we got our first real snow, I was outside at about midnight taking pictures of the snow drifting down, peacefully to the ground.

My second memory is watch the cartoon Frosty The Snowman, while sitting on Grandpa’s lap. At the very end, I would cry when Frosty would begin to melt. Grandpa would reassure me (just like the show reassured the kids) that Frosty will be back again one day!

When my Dad and I talk about Grandpa Larry, he is amazed at what I remember since he died when I was so young. I hod these memories close to my heart and think of him yearly when the snow comes down.

December 8, 2009 Christmas Cookies

Today, Genea Blogger asks the following questions on the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories:

Did your family or ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

Did we ever! I love Christmas cookies. My maternal Grandma, Ida, used to bake a few different types of cookies.

  • Spritz cookies are  small sugar cookie that is put through a cookie press and topped with candy sprinkles! These are my favorite.
  • Ice box Cookies are a small cookie as well, I believe they are a brown sugar base with some chopped walnuts in them. The dough is rolled up in wax paper and frozen. When you are ready for cookies, take them out of the freezer, unroll, cut and bake. Yummy!

After Grandma passed away the cookie making was turned over to my Aunt Betty. I would spend Thanksgiving weekend with her. We would decorate the house and start the cookie making. She also made the Spritz and Ice box cookies, but also made many more.

  • Laurie’s cookies are made with graham crackers, walnuts and brown sugar
  • Sugar cookies with cookie cutters that were then frosted
  • Rice Krispie treats were turned into little wreaths with Red Hots as the holly
  • FUDGE (best part of the holidays), there were many, many tins of fudge

My favorites to bake are the Spritz cookies and then Peanut Butter Blossom’s which have the Hershey Kiss center.

I miss the days of having time to bake. I have worked retail for the past 7 years and I am lucky to get a tree up, let alone back some yummy cookies. I need bake this weekend!

December 7, 2009 Holiday Parties

Today, Genea Blogger asks the following questions on the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories:

Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?


Growing up we never attended any type of family party. The only affair, was the holiday itself. 

As an adult, I worked for one company that always held wonderful holiday parties for the family. I truly enjoyed dressing all the kids up and showing them off for the night. There was always wonderful food, beautiful ice sculptures, small gifts for the kids and a special visit with that special man, Santa Clause!

As I have taken time to write each day for the Advent Calender, I feel that my family did not spend any time on the extra fun stuff. I hope my children will remember the times we went to the work holiday parties, because I loved taking them to it. 

December 6, 2009 Santa Clause

Today, Genea Blogger asks the following questions on the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories:

Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?


I remember writing letters to Santa when I was a child. Did they ever get mailed? I doubt it. As for making a list, we absolutely made them yearly and hoped that we were good enough to get everything we asked for. 

As for believing in Santa, of course I do! If you do not believe, you do not get any gifts.

I will say that while we are on the subject of Santa, I think it is great that he finally writes letters back to the kids that write to him. About 9-10 years ago, my three kids all wrote their letters to Santa and each one got a reply (postmarked from the North Pole)! How excited they were to get those letters.

December 5, 2009 Outdoor Decorations

In today’s Genea Bloggers Advent Calender of Christmas Memories our theme is 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?


Growing up in a big city, their were many neighborhoods to go and see the outdoor decorations. As for my family, we usually limited it to lights on the bushes and maybe the windows. Nothing to extraordinary or strenuous.

We preferred to get in the car, turn on some Christmas music and drive through the neighborhoods who really decorated their homes. My favorite neighborhood, is Lincolnwood, IL. They usually will get featured on the evening news. There are blocks upon blocks of lights, Santa’s (with and without a sleigh), nativaties and trees. One house in particular puts up 3 – 4 trees and makes it look like it is all one tree. The last tree is on the roof off the house and it looks like the tree grew through all the floors and out the roof! How I love driving through this neighborhood during the holidays!

Speaking of outdoor decorations, reminds me of the Christmas of 1994. My son was about 1.5 years. He was still a quiet little boy at this point. He talked, but never too many words at once. We were driving home from my parents, taking a short cut through the side streets. He was in the back seat of the car, in his baby seat, looking out the window. All of a sudden, he was so excited, he kept saying “Mama see! Mama see!” That was his first attempt at conversation. I will never forget how cute he was at that moment.

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