Today in England we have a second public holiday, or as we call them, bank holiday. The 26th December is known as Boxing Day, or as it is officially known, St Stephen’s Day. St Stephen was the first Christian Martyr and celebrated in the Latin Church on 26 December and on 27 Dec in Eastern Christianity (source Wikipedia).
In past times, this was the day that servants received a Christmas box from their “master” and were given the day off so they could pass the box to their families.
In the mornings I am always awake and up first. I make tea and take my Thyroxine and other pills. I then watch the birds from the kitchen window before heading back to bed with my tea for an iPad fix! Today though I am feeling a bit nostalgic. So in a reflective mood, I venture down the garden. I probably look quite a sight – PJ’s, Crocs and my homey slouch cardigan. The garden is gradually getting to how we want it. I am not much of a gardener. The Butcher green finger gardening gene missed me completely. Just as well I married someone who is!
The bulbs planted by a previous owner are beginning to pop through the soil, but I can only make a guess what they will grow into. I stood on the pathway that runs alongside our garage, hearing a neighbour calling a pet, though I cannot make out the name. Our pet is upstairs sleeping. At aged 10, Alfie is beginning to show his age, he has though the beautiful temperament and genetics of a Border Terrier.
As a child, today was the day I sat and wrote the thank you notes to all those who had bought me gifts. Looking back now, recalling who bought for me, I feel very lucky. My Great Aunts, my maternal Grandfather’s sisters, bought for me until I was 21. They had children and grandchildren of their own, so it was special that they bought for me all those years ago. All are no longer with us, a sad but true fact of life.
My Cousin’s daughter celebrates her 21st birthday today. I left a message via Facebook for her, sharing a greeting across the 10,000 mile distance between us. In doing so, I think back to my 21st birthday.
I celebrated it at a hotel in Godalming called The Inn on the Lake. All the people I held dear were there, and it was a select and small group. My Mum and maternal Grandmother, my Great Aunt who was also my Godmother, two dear friends, one of which I had known since I was eight, so currently 42 years and finally a couple who were family friends. Joyce had met my Grandmother, then aged 26 and newly married when she was 14 years of age, having been evacuated from Kingston upon Thames to Guildford. That relationship was shared until the last passed away. So something special, spanning the generations, born out of a frightening and turbulent time.
My late Mum was given the middle name of Joyce, and my Grandmother was always called Aunt Lil by Joyce and I always called Joyce and her husband Aunt and Uncle, out of respect, as I was taught to do. Years later, I was told to drop the formalities which I did, but the happy memories and friendship continued up until Joyce and her husband passed away, just a few years ago. I have a series of photographs taken from that night and as I looked at them recently, I was experiencing a memory of that night, plus the observation that all except my two dear friends are now deceased.
As I write this, my late Mum’s clock chimes 10 am, and I realise that I have been in a reflective and nostalgic mood for two hours. Writing this Desk Ramblings which was not a planned post at all, and all started from looking out of the kitchen window at the birds and garden, having left a birthday greeting on Facebook.
I am reminded that our memories are precious and appear in the current mind quite organically. We just need to be able to take the time to remember the happiness of our yesterdays.
Happy Boxing Day!
Happy, peace-filled Christmas, Boxing Day, and many more grateful reminiscences to you, Julie. “A thankful heart doeth good like a medicine.” I can echo much of what you write so inspiringly, in my own youth with a dozen uncle/aunt pairs + ‘honorary’ uncles and aunts (parents’ friends/cousins so called for respect) and hordes of my first cousins (now beginning to pass away). Genealogy study is a kind of respectful celebration of those gifts from grand/parents and their generation. Then also a gift from me (as steward and continuer] to my 2 curious grandchildren – equipped with FH data collection questionnaires for their other relatives’ seasonal encounters. XX. A
I absolutely agree Alfred that Genealogy is a respectful celebration of those gifts from Grandparents etc. It is also a tribute to the lives they lived and those parts of themselves that they leave behind with love ones. It is quite remarkably comforting to write about those who we love, but who are no longer here. Indeed, I am working on a project that is almost a year late because I got side tracked with a few others things. That piece of work is a tribute to my late Mum and whilst it will never be a best seller, it is special and worth writing to me, not to mention good for my mental health following loosing my Mum – Grief, like life is fragile, and whilst death is a certainty, and we all know its coming, we are never prepared for it, or at least I wasn’t. There were millions of things that I had never asked and there were lots that I had. Even now, almost six years on, there are still moments when I think, I’ll ask Mum and the realisation is almost grieving all over again. I leave no descendants and therefore, I am battling with the decisions of what will happen to my notebooks, of which there are lots, planners and no end of genealogical material.
I hope you had a lovely Christmas Alfred and enjoyed spending time with your loved ones.
St Paul informally adopted Timothy as his amanuensis and then literary heir. Their legacy is half the New Testament, so the tactic was successful. I am drip-feeding some younger relatives (nieces, nth cousins) to cultivate passive and active interest in their close family’s history, and have briefed my son (casually, not to frighten the horses) that he’s heir to my genealogy research notes, products and computer. My other legatees and before-gaga deposits might well be at the Guild, local FH Society, county archive or town library. Their acceptance depends on my keeping well-organised, with progressive interim reports that close a stage of work. Not for nothing is such ‘discipline’ part of ‘disciple’ = follower.
[I fear I’m getting that blog bug…]
Julie – We’ve touched a chord here: reflecting on parents, generational handover of love tokens, fragility and endurance, interchange of inspiration and comfort with other persons … Perhaps it’s not fashionable, but in the language I’m familiar with, let me dare to share my reflection from this morning’s CofE service. “O be joyful… for the Lord is gracious; his faithfulness endures from generation to generation.” And “As we rejoice in the gift of this new day … set our hearts on fire with love …”. Our respective mothers embodied graciousness, faithfulness, enduring love, sharing of stories about family. Fathers also. Ancestors probably to a great extent, in their respective ways and contexts. The Bible tells much about the faith and foibles of folk, and influenced our forebears strongly. Is it too romantic to say that their values and activities (personalities as much as genes) helped to create not only you and me, but also the liberal society we enjoy today? And that our satisfying duty is to hand on much of that to others around us, whether closely or distantly related by genes? Which you are doing abundantly with your writing and teaching – in thankfulness. Which drives me in my stumbles to celebrate, communicate (to a smaller audience) and preserve the stories of me and mine. So grief alongside joy, gentleness with resilience, empathy with encouragement – are not polar pairs but companions in our complexity. Enduring transmission of values (embedded in the data) from generation to generation expresses a deep portion of who we are. No wonder that genealogy is so fascinating! Howzat for a synthesis Pillar? X. A
Alfred – Very impressive with your synthesis pillar. I think in the modern era, we are very much able to share all the facets of our lives, whereas our ancestors, including the recent ones were not encouraged to do so. I concur that personalities and genes live on – the nature and nurture debate and whilst some might say it’s coincidence, I do not think that is entirely true.
Do you remember Spirograph’s? where you draw through a template and keep on moving said template, so the shape becomes overlapping with other drawings of the same template – That is what I believe our research tells us, especially for those of us who find that there are numerous intermarrying and overlapping of families. Our people did not live in isolation and where there is intermarrying it makes complete sense that those personality traits that went before us and then were prevalent in families of intermarriage do appear in future generations. Families are complex and it is those complexities that we enjoy unravelling. What I do wonder is, how much of those complexities there are whereby it is found in individuals of the same surname, whilst having no genetic links. Is that coincidence or potentially something else is at play?