Sunday, December 24, 2023

Your Mother's Christmas Music


Why is it that, around this time of year, I can hear Christmas music rerunning in my mind? Perhaps my brain has reached saturation level. After all, around here people start celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. But there is something curious about that holiday music that plays in my head: it's not my music. It's not even the current generation's music. It's music from the forties—my mother's Christmas tunes.

Take, for instance, the song twirling around the gray matter between my ears right now. It's "White Christmas," a piece made popular by Bing Crosby in 1942. My dad was thick in the middle of his big-band years, and my mom was still a teenager in high school. This is not my generation's music—and yet, somehow, it has achieved a timeless status, a place where many generations can join to share that same memory.

There are other realms in which, thankfully, we lose sight of those rigid walls of generational separation. I like to think that sharing stories of our family history can fit into that same category, especially when it allows people to see similarities across generations—that stubborn wave of the hair in grandpa's grade school photo, for instance, that shows up this year in the elementary school class photo of a great-grandchild. Or a penchant for telling corny jokes, or stealing third base with trademark flair. Sometimes, those stories can become timeless. And it's the holidays which seem to bring those stories out into the open at the least expected times. That's what happens when family gets together for holiday gatherings.

On my end, as we head into Christmas Eve, we've got the decorations up, all the packages wrapped, and the finishing touches prepared for our traditional cioppino soup this evening and tomorrow morning's homemade cinnamon rolls.

As for A Family Tapestry, I'm all set to tally my last biweekly progress report a day early—you don't expect me to do that on Christmas day, do you?!—and bundle up the year's series of posts. Beginning with the day after Christmas, I'll be celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with my own genealogy tradition: planning ahead for research projects in 2024.

In the meantime, we're closing out the 2023 research year with 36,211 names in my family tree, and 34,091 in my in-laws' tree. In the past two weeks, I was able to include information on 283 family members in my tree, and an extra two in my husband's family. When I look back to my first tally in January of this year, my tree had 31,399 documented individuals, so this year has brought in 4,812 new family members in my ancestors' collateral lines—so helpful for DNA connections! And my in-laws' tree this year saw a growth of 3,433 names, having started 2023 with 30,658 relatives. That should be enough encouragement to keep me going for another year, wouldn't you say?

As for the holidays, that week between Christmas and New Year ushers me into my favorite time of year—a time for settling in, reflecting on the year, and planning ahead, something to look forward to. I hope the holidays bring you warm anticipation, as well.

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