Monday, January 28, 2008

Week Twenty-Nine: Family Time

Last week there were some great responses to "Games and Puzzles." You could really see the family dynamics as various bloggers wrote about the game times they had with their families. I wanted to continue in the same vein with "Family Time." These times can be referring to your household family, or extended family members.

*Did your family have a regularly scheduled family time?

*What sorts of things did your family do together most often?

*Where did you spend your family times? At home or elsewhere?

*How important were family meal times?

*Did you ever go for "Sunday drives"? Where did you go?

*Did your family have a favorite place at which to eat out together? What made it a favorite?

*Was there a favorite television show you liked to watch together (or a radio show to listen to together)? Did you ever read together?

*What kinds of things did your family talk about when they got together?

*Were there certain kinds of sports or activities that you participated in as a family?

*Did you ever have a family portrait done by a professional photographer? Was this done on a regular basis, or just occasionally?

Understandably, if you grew up in a household where the family dynamics were not the best, the above questions may not apply. Some people may find it therapeutic to write honestly about this, while others may find it helpful to write about how they determined to have things be different when they raised their own families.

One of my great-great-grandmothers, Jana "Jennie" (TON) HOEKSTRA, was orphaned at an early age. She lived with her step-father, but once he remarried after her mother's death, she went to live with an uncle and aunt, and worked as a maid and a laundress at a young, young age. She had a very hard life. One of the most precious possessions I own is a little scrap of paper on which she wrote about some early memories she had of her immigrant Dutch parents:
I, remember when my mother was kind to me, and took the long walk, with her, Sundays after-noon and her Love.

I, remember the walk, my Father and I took one evening in Cincinnati Ohio. The Father's day, and mother's days are a blessing.

Sunday Feb 14--1943
This is all I have ever seen in Jennie's writing, and it is so significant that the one thing that has been saved of all she ever wrote was about her family! Make sure your descendants have a record of your family times, and copies of your family portraits or snapshots.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Journaling Responses to "Week Twenty-Eight: Games and Puzzles"

The following genea-bloggers have posted their journal responses to "Week Twenty-Eight: Games and Puzzles" on their blogs, and can be found at the following links:
I've really appreciated and enjoyed reading these responses. When people talk about their families, you really get an understanding of the dynamics of these families and the individual's growing up years. Comparing and contrasting those similarities and differences with one's own family is fascinating!

If you know of anyone else who has posted a response, please let me know by using the comments feature. Remember, you don't have to have a blog to write the stories of your childhood for your descendants!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Week Twenty-Eight: Games and Puzzles

With all the snow we're having here in Spokane this winter, nothing sounds like more fun than gathering the family around the table to play a few games on a winter evening. Here in the Midkiff house, we have three shelves full of board and card games, a collection my husband started building not long after we were married. He wanted to have a variety for our future family to choose from for family nights. We don't play as often as we used to, so maybe it's time we started that back up. A Midkiff family tradition we've started and continue every summer is to play Balderdash nearly every evening of our week up at the lake with my brother-in-law's family. My brother-in-law usually comes up with the funniest definitions, but I usually end up winning! We always get silly and adults and kids alike thoroughly enjoy this tradition!

When I was in college, our high school and college youth group enjoyed playing Spoons, Charades, and especially Pictionary, long before the latter became a board game. It was supposedly created by Gonzaga University students here in Spokane.

*Did you have a regular game night or family night?

*What games (board, card, dice, or acting out) did your family enjoy? Was there a favorite you played time after time?

*Did your family have a family or game room? What was it like? What kind of game equipment did it have (foosball, pool table, etc.)?

*Do you have any funny stories or a particular memory (good or bad) that stands out of game-playing time?

*What's the first game you remember playing?

*Were there any games you disliked? Why?

*Were there any games that were not allowed to be played? Why?

*Did your parents have a regular night when they would play games or cards with friends or extended family?

*Did you ever have game nights with groups, clubs, or neighbors on a regular basis?

*Was game playing associated with certain annual events, like holidays, birthdays, or vacation times?

*What kinds of snacks and beverages were enjoyed during game playing?

*Were there prizes awarded to game winners or even to losers? What kinds? Did everyone chip in towards purchasing the prizes?

*Did your family or you ever do jigsaw puzzles? What's the largest--in terms of number of puzzle pieces--jigsaw puzzle you've completed?

*What did you do with completed puzzles? Did you display them or simply put them away?

*What about puzzles such as crosswords, cryptograms, or others found in puzzle books? Are you a Sudoku fiend?

*Did you ever go to an arcade and play pinball machines or other arcade-style games? Or did you ever shoot pool?

*Do you remember seeing your first video game, either in an arcade or on a television (Pong, Atari or early Nintendo games)?

*What kinds of video games did you like to play, if any? Do you play any now (gaming station or handheld)?

*What was your first computer game? Do you ever play computer games now, either on your computer or online?

*What about the present? Does your family or do you personally play games or do puzzles? Do you participate in game nights with others, such as poker or Bunco?

*Here are some other game ideas to write about: lawn games (horseshoes, croquet, badminton); kid games (marbles, jacks); betting, casino games, and bingo; party games (pinata, pin the tail on the donkey), etc.

*What do you know about your parents', grandparents', or perhaps even great-grandparents' game playing? Do you remember them saying anything about games they played when they were young?

*Do you have any photos of either your present or your childhood families playing games? What about ancestral photos?

I'll have more prompts about other family times in next week's post.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Journaling Responses to "Week Twenty-Seven: Civil Rights and Diversity"

This past week, several bloggers took on the challenge of writing about civil rights and social justice and then posting their responses on their blogs. Here are links where you can read their stories:

Several other people commented on my post or e-mailed me privately to tell me that they were also writing responses, but due to the sensitive nature of the topic, were not posting them on their blogs. This is certainly understandable.

If you have responded to this topic on your blog and would like me to link to your post, please contact me. My e-mail can be found by clicking on my profile information in the right-hand column.

As a reminder, you don't need to have a blog to write these responses. They're meant for you to write in whatever format you are most comfortable with, whether in a bound journal, in a document format (like Microsoft Word) on your computer, or online in private or public format, whatever works best for you. Be sure to make backups if you are writing in electronic format, whether you print up your writings or store them on a CD, DVD, or USB drive.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Week Twenty-Seven: Civil Rights and Diversity

And last, never let your mind become so narrow that you cannot associate with those of another race, color, or way of believing.
--Faith Valk Robbins to Miriam Joy Robbins, 10 May 1967, in "Mother's Message to Her Child" from the Baby Book of Miriam Joy Robbins, pg. 47

With Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday coming up next weekend, and the celebration of Black History Month in February, many of us are thinking about the Civil Rights Movement and issues such as diversity, social justice, tolerance (a word I dislike...who out there wants to be merely tolerated?), and acceptance of those different from ourselves.

The quote above written by my mother in my baby book when I was just under two months old. I am very grateful for parents who taught and walked a life of acceptance towards others. Even when our family was faced with several years of intense racism and hatred during a nasty lawsuit in the mid-1970s while living in Southeast Alaska, I never heard them say a negative word. My parents were--and still are--very conservative in their beliefs, but their faith in a loving God who loves all His children is behind their compassion and acceptance of all they meet. Others have not been so fortunate, I know, to have grown up in such a family.

*What was the racial, ethnic, or religious situation in the community where you grew up? Was your family part of a racial, ethnic, or religious majority or minority? Were there differences in your community or family such as developmental disabilities, mental illness, or social class differences? Were there bi-racial or mixed-faith families?

*How did this affect you and your family? Did your family experience discrimination or prejudice, or were family members prejudiced against others? Have you ever feared for your life because of prejudice?

*What were you taught about people who were different from you? Do you still believe this? Why or why not? If not, what made you change your mind?

*Were there households in your neighborhood or community where a couple was co-habitating rather than being legally married? Were there gays and lesbians in your community? Or did you grow up in such a diverse household? What was your family's or the community's reaction to this?

*Do you remember the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s or the AIM movement of the 1970s? What about the Equal Rights Amendment or the AIDS epidemic? What were your feelings or thoughts on these matters? Did they affect you directly, and how?

*What do you remember about meeting someone for the first time who was different from you in some way? What preconceived ideas were dismantled as you got to know this person as an individual, rather than as a symbol of your differences?

*If you are a person considered "different" by the mainstream, do you have a successful experience to share where you were able to change someone else's preconceived ideas about your diverse situation? How did that occur?

*Are there any oral histories in your family about being able to vote or own land or other civil rights for the first time? What about stories were rights were denied? (George Geder shared some stories of discrimination during his grandfather Jack Hancock's life here. My daughter, who loves to shop, was most distressed at how Jack's daughter Sadye was thrown into jail for staring at a dress in the window of a "for whites only" store.) Are there events in your family history where ancestors or relatives triumphed over social injustice? Were any of your ancestors social reformers? Are you?

As I'm sure you're all aware, the above prompts can bring up some volatile emotions. Please use caution and wisdom if you post your responses on a blog or other public format. These prompts are not meant to cause an uproar; the purpose of these prompts, as always, remains a way for you to tell succeeding generations about your life story.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Journaling Responses to "Week Twenty-Six: Winter"

There's been a variety of thoughtful responses to Sunday's writing prompt on "Winter," and I thought I'd leave some links to them so you can read them as well:
If you know of any others, please let me know. My e-mail is available on my profile page (see right-hand column).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Week Twenty-Six: Winter

Here in Spokane, Washington, we've received about four inches of snow overnight. We've had more snow this season since the winter of 1969. It's got me thinking about the season...the things we like and dislike, and how we've endured or enjoyed it over the years. Here are some prompts to help you write about the winters in your life:

* What has been your attitude toward winter? Is it "the weather outside is frightful" or "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow"?

*What are or were your favorite outdoor winter activities? Some ideas to jog your memory include sledding, skiing, skating, snowshoeing, snowball fights, or making snowmen. Where did you go to do these activities? Did you ever have an accident participating in any of the more active sports?

*What are or were your favorite indoor winter activities? Did you play board games or cards, listen to the radio or watch TV, do puzzles or needlework, read books and magazines, or write letters, journals, or stories?

*What do you remember about winter clothing in your childhood? Do you have any stories to tell about long johns, snow suits or snow pants, a favorite or unfavorite pair of boots? Did you wear a pair of mittens with a string connecting them around your neck? Colleen shares a great memory here!

*Did anyone ever make you hats, scarves, mittens or sweaters to wear? Were they knitted or crocheted?

*What were your favorite winter foods or drinks? Some ideas include soups, stews, casseroles, hot chocolate, tea, or hot buttered rum.

*How about the cold? Did you ever get frostbite? Did you ever take a dare and stick your tongue on something metal? Was your bedroom cold at night in the winter? How did you stay warm at night...with an electric blanket, a bedwarming pan, or hot potatoes at the foot of your bed under the covers?

*What big storms or hard winters do you have memories or stories of? (Those who live in Spokane may have their stories of Ice Storm '96.)

*If you live(d) in areas that get little to no snow during the winter, what are or were your winters like? Windy and rainy? Warm or hot? Did you wish for snow, or were you glad you didn't get any? If it did occasionally snow, did the bad weather shut down your community? Do you remember the first time you saw snow? What did you think of it?

*Do you remember stories from your parents, grandparents, or other family members or old timers of big storms or hard winters of the past?

*Do you have any photos of your ancestors outdoors in the winter, or of their homes or automobiles covered with snow? What about photos of ancestors' horses and sleighs?

Decorate your journal with photos of yourself and/or your ancestors enjoying (or enduring) wintertime.