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Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

My Scottish ancestors did not really celebrate Christmas until the twentieth century and then it was for the children. My Irish ancestors celebrated Christmas quietly. As a result decorating the outside of the house was not something that my ancestors did.

When I was a child my grandmother decorated the outside of her house with big snowmen and candles that lit up inside. These were put on the upper balcony or sometimes on the patio on the first level. She did not decorate the outside of her home until she moved to Canada. This was a North American tradition that was done for the grandchildren.

It was not until we got a house that my parents started putting up outside lights. It was the usual string around the eaves and maybe some around a bush. At one point they gave up the stringed lights and used spot lights which were red and green. If we got a lot of snow around Christmas they stayed in place until the spring thaw. Now there are white lights on bushes and an evergreen decoration on the wall next to the front door. The urns out the front are filled with greenery, red sticks, pine cones and a large glass ball.

This was originally published in December 2010

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Most of our family lived in Ireland, Scotland and England so Christmas cards were the main way of keeping up with everyone. My mother is one of twenty one first cousins and this was the only time during the year that they would communicate, unless of course there was a birth, marriage or death.

The cards would be placed on the mantel over the fireplace in the living room.

Some cards held handwritten letters telling of the families activities during the year. It could be a small note on a card or several sheets of blue air mail paper. Sometimes a picture would be included to show the latest member of the family. This now includes pictures of grandchildren.

Mum would start her card writing early in December especially if letters were to be included. You had to have them in the post by a certain date to guarantee that they would arrive before Christmas.

Everyday when we got home one of the first things we did was to check the Christmas cards to see whose had arrived and what news they held.

This was originally published in December 2010

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Our Christmas tree ornaments were the usual lights and colourful balls.

The special ones were those my parents bought for their first tree. Over the years most of the glass ornaments have broken but I have the precious few that are still left.

There were the Santa heads with the cotton beards, small chocolates and candy canes that were hung on the tree each year. Every Christmas my brother and I had a mission to sneak the odd chocolate off the tree and see if my mother would notice. She always did.

This was first published in December 2010

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

When we were in Dublin Ireland for Christmas the main event was the Limerick ham that was sent to my Grandparents from my Grandpa’s Aunt Girlie. There is nothing like a Limerick ham.

Another Irish tradition was the spiced beef which my Grandpa and I both enjoyed. I found a recipe so that I could make it here and eventually found one shop in the area that made it for the holidays.

Our Christmas dinner was the usual roast turkey and ham. We had mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts and turnips and sometimes carrots. My mother made the best sage, onion and sausage stuffing.

Dessert was a plum pudding with the coins wrapped in foil and stuck inside for us to find. Around the base of the pudding holly branches were put on for decoration. The pudding was set aflame and the lights turned out as it was presented to the table. Pouring custard was served on the side.

Over the years things have changed. Now our Christmas dinner consists of roast beef with brussel sprouts, turnip and roast potatoes. Dessert is always something different.

The dinner table was always dressed with Christmas napkins, crackers and candles. Just before dessert is served the crackers are pulled and everyone puts on those silly paper hats. How many of you have a Christmas photograph with people wearing those colourful paper hats?

This was originally published in December 2010

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

When I was a small child our Christmas trees were always real. The smell in the house was wonderfully warming.

In the 1970s when artificial Christmas trees became the rage we got one.

Whether the tree was real or artificial the ornaments were the same. We had some lovely ones that my parents had bought for their first tree in 1959. I have the few that survived on my tree.

Putting up the tree each year was a ritual. It went up the second weekend of December and my father would put on the lights. Then it was our turn to put on the decorations. The final items on the tree were the candy canes and small hollow chocolates in the shape of Santa, pine cones, angels and Christmas trees. The presents were not put under the tree until Christmas Eve.

The tree was always taken down by the 6th of January.

This was originally published in December 2010

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Merry Christmas


Joyeux Noël


Nollaig Shona


Nollaig Chridheil

Christmas Eve is our Christmas celebration day. We all meet at my parent’s house for the present exchange, conversation and cheer. The tree is now in the living room near the fireplace and I have passed on my present distribution duties to my niece. Mum, as always, will put on a lovely spread. There are hors d’oeuvres of shrimp, cheese and pate. Then it is the roast beef dinner that we look forward to all year. Dessert is my job and I have a hard time finding something new every year. Then while the coffee is being served so are my homemade cookies and truffles.
©2010 – Blair Archival Research

My Great Great Grandparents James Edward Cheetham Brooks and Mary Bartington married on Christmas day in 1868 at St. John’s Church in Manchester, Lancashire, England. It is not known if there was a particular reason why they chose Christmas day to marry. It could be because that was the only day they could both get off work.

A Great Great Grandmother, Susan Boxwell Malone, married her first husband on 27 December 1854 in Wexford Ireland. She was a Quaker and they were married in the Presbyterian Church. He died just before the birth of their third child, a daughter. Susan then married my Great Great Grandfather Henry Thompson who was also a Quaker.

My Blair Grandparents married on December 27th. I know they chose that time to marry because my Grandfather was working on the Gold Coast in Africa and was home for the holidays.

My parents were married on December 30th. Again I know they married at this time because my father, who had already moved to Canada, had the time off work.

My father had a little glitch getting back to Ireland for the holidays and the wedding. He was working up in Northern Ontario and planned on taking a train into Toronto to get to the airport. The train derailed and he was stuck in Sudbury. His father was working in Toronto and they were due to fly to Dublin together so he gave him a call. He was told to take a taxi to North Bay and then a flight to Toronto. The taxi cost him $90.

He arrived at Toronto airport just in time to spend a little time with the small party that had gathered to wish him well and then get on the flight. This was the time before the big jets and flights overseas were not as regular as they are today. He would not have been able to get a flight to Dublin much before the day of his wedding so anything he had to do, or pay, to get to that flight on time was done.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

We did not go to visit cemeteries at Christmas. The only family members in Canada were with us around the table. We did remember absent people with a toast at the beginning of the meal.
©2010 – Blair Archival Research

My parents had a collection of Christmas records from the 1960s. One of my favourites was Jungle Bells by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in 1962. The other favourite was Ballad of the Christmas Donkey by Ed Ames. I could listen to these for hours.

For overall variety it was Mitch Miller and the Gang with two Sing along with Mitch Christmas albums. One was traditional songs and the other the novelty songs of the season. Of course Christmas would not be complete without the Bing Crosby Christmas album. Bing was one of the constants of the season when I was a child.

We sometimes went caroling. I can remember one year doing it with the Girl Guides to collect money for charity. We went from door to door singing our hearts out. One year our church held a caroling service in a local park which was open to everyone in the community. The Salvation Army Band provided the musical back up.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

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