Just Thinking

Newsletter Winter 2003

Snowflake pattern of dish by Wendell August

Cabin Fever

by Barbara Williams

In the mountains where I grew up cabin fever is a common ailment in wintertime.

Housewives usually suffer the most and long desperately for the freedom of warm weather and spring (and children playing outside).  Our homes protect us from the cold outside but also start to feel confining.

This winter I plan to step back, take a deep breath, and remember how much the homes I’ve lived in throughout my life are a part of me.  Perhaps some of these projects will inspire you as well, and maybe together we can shake off the cabin fever this year!

All the Homes I’ve Loved Before.

Many of my special childhood memories are tied to the places we called home.

I remember when I was very young living in a house on a cul-de-sac, and riding my tricycle around the sidewalk, back and forth.

I remember the house we lived in when I was only six years old.  It had a bench around two walls of the kitchen where we could sit around the table.  I loved that house!  In the wintertime the snow would weigh down the boughs of the weeping willow in the back yard.  Before Dad freed the branches with a rake, we would crawl underneath and play in the little tunnel that it created near the trunk of the tree.

More recently, I remember the home that we returned to with our first little baby.  My husband had cleaned and disinfected the whole house to make sure she would be safe and healthy.  What a sweet memory!

Take the time to remember the places that you have called home, and the homes of loved ones that hold special memories for you.  You’ll be amazed by the beautiful memories that come flooding back!

History of Our House.

When I was young we moved into an older home.  It was big and roomy and mysterious to an eight-year-old.

I often wished that I had known the history of that house.  We were fortunate to find out some interesting things from an elderly neighbor who had lived there at one time (like what the bidet was doing in a house in Wyoming), but much of the history of our home remained illusive.

What is the history of the home that you live in?  Have you researched it at all?  If you live in a new home, this is a wonderful opportunity to document from the beginning; if not, you can start now.  From the mundane record of repairs to joys and sorrows that are experienced within it’s walls, the history of a house helps make it a home.

Decorator’s Notes. 

I remember hearing that Brigham Young’s home had been restored accurately thanks to a journal kept by his daughter.  She described the home in detail and even included fabric swatches.  It was a treasure to those who wanted to recreate the beauty of that home long after it had faded.

This year I plan to do the same.  I want to take pictures of our home, making notes of how the rooms are used and the meaning of the things that we choose to keep around us.  I want to record the various flowers and trees that grow in the spring and summer, and the birds that keep the birdfeeder half empty, even in wintertime.

Decorators will likely never have the dilemma of trying to restore our 1980’s rambler, but our posterity will know so much more about us, and maybe they will recognize some of the heirlooms that make their own homes special!

Any of these projects would be perfect for scrapbooking or journaling.  We’d love to hear how you are able to adapt and use them for your own history!


Family Politics

by Chris Kennard

The year: 1980. The classroom was divided along party lines (actually, we were assigned parties…heck, we were only 6!). Two well informed students went up to the front of the classroom and campaigned vigorously for their presidential candidate. After much deliberation, we went to our secret voting booths, covered the ballots with our hands so our sneaky neighbors couldn’t cheat, and voted. It was close, but Ronald Regan won the Presidency over Jimmy Carter. I can still feel the tension. I can visualize exactly what the ballots looked like and the little stick figures that represented the candidates.

I can also remember walking home that day, thinking about the election, and realized that mom had let someone put a Regan campaign sign up in our yard! Mom must be a really smart lady to choose the same guy as me. From then on, I watched the news and paid attention to the race, and thought it was no coincidence that Regan was elected. He had won the ‘Ms. Burt’s 1st Grade Class Primary,’ remember. From then on he was my president. I was responsible for getting him elected and I felt that I had made the difference.

I’m a little more cynical now but that’s a very real memory for me, and frankly, I don’t have very many.

President’s Day was originally Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12th and Washington’s Birthday on February 22nd. The two days were consolidated and celebrated on the 12th, with all of the presidents included. On the 12th tell your family about your first presidential memory – when you became aware of the office and power of the president. Or maybe you could tell them about the first time you voted. Maybe about your parent’s politics and going to vote with them, if they took you.  Remember to record these memories for your history as well!

For the serious genealogist, see how many steps there are between you and the president…who are you related to that is also related to any of the presidents?  I’m still working on that for our family, I’ll see what I can do and report in next quarter’s newsletter.


10 Reasons I Love You

by Barbara Williams

Take the time this Valentine’s Day to write down or record your feelings about those who are close to you.  Our relationships with others are a very important part of who we are, and our histories would be woefully incomplete without some record of our feelings toward loved ones.

A Special Valentine

Write a list of ten things that you love about each of the people who are close to you.  Make a copy for your own journal, and then share the list with each person.

Family Home Evening Ideas

Write each family member’s name on a piece of paper, a paper heart, etc.  Pass the papers around until everyone has had a chance to write down or draw something that they love about each family member.  Share the results, and encourage everyone to keep them in their journals (or keep them in the family scrapbook).

Write each person’s name on the bottom of a Hershey’s Kiss or other candy.  Each member of the family draws a name (and gets a kiss), shares what they most love about the person who’s name was drawn, and then calls upon everyone else in turn to share their feelings.  Keep the tape recorder on for this activity!


Celebrating Your Heritage

by Chris Kennard

Happy St. Chris’ Day!

Nope, not declaring my impending sainthood. I’ve just always wanted to say that! I have a brother named Patrick, and every year it was like he had two birthdays; the real one, right near the end of December, and then St. Patrick’s Day, which he claimed as his own and the whole world celebrated. I was always a little envious of Pat, and even now I feel like St. Patrick’s day is a special family holiday for us.

Maybe that’s why I created my own little St. Chris’ day, or more specifically, Christina Lovina Amelia Jacobsen day, the wonderful great-great-grandma that I was named after. Even more special, her birthday was November 9th, exactly six months after mine (okay okay, technically six months and one hundred and eleven years before mine). Everything I learn about Amelia (she went by Amelia, not Christina) is special to me and I feel like she’s more of a grandma instead of a distant relation. Not only that, I feel like she’s MY grandma, or that we share a little secret that the rest of my family isn’t in on.

Or wasn’t in on, anyway. Seven years ago, my sister named her daughter after the same great lady! At first I felt a little cheated, but instead of Milly destroying my ‘relationship’ with Grandma Amelia, I feel like she’s my special niece. We share the same namesake, the same secret relationship, and unfortunately the same semi-wavy hair that won’t stay smooth and pretty no matter what we do (I wonder if Grandma Amelia had the same unfortunate ‘pillow-head’ genes?).

Were you named after someone? What do you know about them and how they got their name? Do your kids have patron ancestors? Wouldn’t it be fun for them to have a small celebration on their birthday? Even if they weren’t named after ancestors, like my poor ancestor-orphan sister Barbara, the name came from *somewhere*, find out where and celebrate!

*Are you interested in learning the origins of your name?  Here are a few dictionaries of names!

http://www.last-names.net/
http://www.parenthood.com/parent_cfmfiles/babynames.cfm

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