Sunday, March 16, 2008

Week Thirty-Four: Holy Days of Spring

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 marks the celebration of Easter for most Christians (Eastern--commonly known as Orthodox--Christians will be celebrating April 27th), and sunset on Saturday, April 19th will be the date Jews will commemorate Passover. These are undoubtedly two of the most well-known spring holy days, although other cultures and religions have their own as well.

*How did your family traditionally celebrate its holy day? Did you attend worship services? Which kind (Good Friday service, Sunrise service, etc.) did you traditionally attend? Did you family approach this holy day with a lot of reverence, or was it secularized?

*What foods did your family eat during the meals celebrating your holy day? What special preparations were involved? As a child, did you help prepare any of the meals or dishes?

*Did you receive or give any gifts or treats as part of the celebration?

*Did you wear special or new clothes?

*What kinds of decorations were created or put out for this holy day?

*What year stands out in your mind when you think back through your life of all the Easter/Passover/other spring holy day celebrations you participated in? Why? What was special/unique/different about that particular one?

*Did you participate in any community events surrounding this holy day (egg hunts, etc.)?

*Do you have any favorite hymns, religious or secular songs, or other music?

*How do you celebrate this holy day now in comparison to when you were a child?

Don't forget to share favorite photographs of you and/or your family celebrating this holy day!

Journaling Responses to Week Thirty-Three: Laughter, the Best Medicine

Here are some posts by other bloggers who've responded to last week's prompts about Laughter, the Best Medicine:
If you have written a response to this prompt on your blog (even if it is long after the time it was originally posted), please let me know, and I'll add a link to your post. Remember, they don't have to be written in order; you can pick and choose as you like.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Great Lakes Dunes Featured on Stamps

(click here to enlarge)

I'm a big fan of stamp collecting. Although I haven't done so since I was child, it's one of those ways like coin collecting, reading biographies of historical characters, conducting science experiments, and creating works of art that expand a child's mind and can be a lead into learning more about one's own past. A number of years ago, the United States Postal Service began a series of a large block of stamps that highlight various ecological habitats found around the U.S. According to this article in the Muskegon [Michigan] Chronicle, the "glorious sand dunes that line portions of all five Great Lakes are about to get national exposure," while being featured in the 10th installment of the Nature of America educational series.

This announcement caught my eye for several reasons: the first, stemming from my childhood hobby of stamp collecting, and the second being that Michigan is an ancestral location for me. But I have more than a passing interest in the Great Lakes dunes than just that they are a wonderful natural feature. You see, my parents met while both their families were camping at Silver Lake State Park 47 years ago this summer, and their first date was driving around on the dunes in a rented dune buggy taking a motorboat ride across Silver Lake, then walking across the dunes from Silver Lake to Lake Michigan! I thought it would be a great idea to buy a block of these stamps and preserve them in a scrapbook to use as a creative prompt to write about how my parents met, so that generations to come would know their story.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week Thirty-Three: Laughter, the Best Medicine

A while ago, I was working away at my laptop, when my teenage son's belly laugh floated down the stairs from his room where he was watching one of his favorite television shows, Family Guy. Immediately, I flashed back to my childhood and heard my brother's own childish belly laugh echoing in my memories, from the weekend mornings when I would try to sleep in and he would be watching Saturday morning cartoons in the living room directly below my bedroom. I thought about how my son's chuckle imitates both my brother's and my sister's, and how my daughter has a very unique outright laugh (it almost sounds fake!), although at times I hear her paternal cousin's giggle or her paternal aunt's chuckle when she is amused. My sister-in-law and my mother-in-law share the same "ha-ha!" and my husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law sound alike as well.

Now that nearly all my grandparents are gone, I can tell you that one of the sounds I miss most is my maternal grandmother's merry laugh, and my paternal grandfather's knee-slapping that accompanied his guffaws after telling a good joke. I can't remember my maternal grandfather's laugh or even a memory of him laughing out loud...maybe because he was a quiet man. I know that my dad and his mother have similar laughs, and I wonder that if I could be transported in time, which ancestors they would sound like.

Ancestral photographs and documents may tell us who someone looks like in the family, or what similar habits or occupations were passed from generation. But sound--people's voices and the way they laughed--are not things that often get recorded for future generations. Yet, they could tell us so much about ourselves and our families!

*When you laugh, who do you sound like? Your father, mother, a sibling, or other relative?

*Who in your family giggles? Belly laughs? Chuckles? Guffaws? Knee slaps or does some other large physical act while laughing?

*What other members of the family have similar laughs? Query the older generations and ask them "who in the family has your grandma's (or grandpa's) laugh?"

*Who has the most unique laugh in your family, and why?

*What kinds of things did your family laugh or joke about?

*What best describes the style of humor in your family (dry, wet, ironic, silly)?

*Did you ever have tickle fights?

*Who were the practical jokers in the family?

*What private jokes did you have as a family? What key phrases were giggle starters?

*What do you remember about your own children's first laughs when they were babies? What silly things did you do to get them to chortle?

*What books, magazine, or cartoon strips were favorite humorous reads in your family?

*What comedy television shows or movies were favorites in your family?

*Do you ever play games that get your family giggling up a storm? (Our family plays Balderdash with my brother-in-law's family every year while camping at the lake for a's our favorite group activity, mainly because we get so darn silly while playing it!)

*Do you have digital recordings, videotapes, audio tapes, or home movies with family members talking or laughing in them? I'm a fan of Susan Kitchen's blog, Family Oral History Using Digital Tools, and she has lots of good tips for preserving these recordings. Perhaps you should plan to do some recording at the next family gathering!

*Besides preserving audio recordings (and perhaps posting them on your blog!), you can post photos of family members cutting capers, laughing, or joking around. If you don't have a blog, you can add these photos to a scrapbook and post your responses to this prompt. You could also add quotes about laughter from the Bible or other sources to your journal, scrapbook, or blog.

And now, it's time to do a little giggling yourself! Watch the YouTube video below! For more great baby laughing videos, go to YouTube and enter "baby laughing" in the search engine.

Journaling Responses to "Week Thirty-Two: Honoring Our Leaders"

I apologize for dropping out of sight the last two weeks. I've barely been keeping my head above water, and things have eased up just a bit, enough for me to try to get back on track. I wanted to let you know about some terrific responses to the last set of journaling prompts, which have been published on genealogy blogs:
I enjoyed reading these, especially discovering which president each person felt was the greatest leader for our country.

As a side note, I encourage you not to feel that you have to write any of these posts in a particular order, or that you need to "catch up." They are numbered for my convenience only. You can write from any prompt at any time, and if you have a blog, post them whenever you wish. In other words, it's not like a carnival with a specific due date. If for some reason, like the last two weeks, I'm unable to get prompts published, I encourage you to take a list at some of the other prompts you may not have written to, so far, and use them instead. The idea is to get you to write about your own life and your ancestors' lives to share with future generations. Feel free to come up with your own prompts and write to those, too!