History

When I was a child, I had a pen pal.  Her name was Bridgette and she lived in Antwerp, Belgium.  We traded many letters about our lives and even shared photos with each other.

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I also wrote letters to friends and family who lived too far away to see on a regular basis and continued to do this into my adult years.  For a matter-of-fact, when hubby and I started dating, he was home on leave from Germany.  Our courtship with via letters and some phone calls.  We discovered that it was a remarkable way to learn about each other and deepen our relationship.

Letter writing, it seems, is now something to be added to the history books.

Correspondence via hand-written notes sent thru the postal service has been replaced with email and social media.

Sadly, paper photographs seem to be headed into history as well.  Photos are uploaded from smart phones and cameras onto computers and archived into folders.  Photo albums, unfilled with memories from vacations, parties and holidays collect dust on shelves.

It’s not that email and social media is a bad thing, but it is sad to think that my children have not experienced the joy of receiving regular letters in the mail. They have not lived the excitement of opening an envelope to learn about someone’s life in another country. They have not shared their lives, via letters, with a friend or cousin who lives in another state.  They will one day have the letter that hubby and I wrote to each other during our courtship.  They will have letters that I wrote to my pen pal.  They will have letters written by their grandparents.  They will have photo albums with pictures dating back to the 1940’s.  They will be able to physically touch history – their history.

How is it, that we have decided that our future history should be in electronic form?

Why has letter writing and the creation of family photo albums taken a back seat to modern technologies?

Why shouldn’t my children and their children and their children’s children have those experiences and be able to physically though their own history for generations to come?

So much can be learned from letters, cards, notes and photographs.  So much can be shared as we sit with our children reading thru those letters and photo albums.  We can see, smell and touch the paper that was once held in the hands of our grandmother or great-grandmother.

I don’t believe that history via technology can truly replace the personal touch of a hand-written letter or a photograph so carefully selected and placed in a photo album that future generations can share.

I think it’s time to put some of the technology aside and allow my children to experience their family history.  It’s time to let them begin to create their own future history for their children and their children’s children.

The Family Tree

For the last several years, I’ve had a growing interest in learning more about my family tree.  The internet makes finding that information easier than ever, so tonight I spent some time searching for information about my family.  Information, that was likely shared with me in my younger days, but since forgotten.

For example, I knew one of my grandmothers had given birth to 11 children.  What I didn’t know (or didn’t remember) is that this same grandmother was the oldest of 15 children.  Holy Smokes!!!!!  Those were some big families!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I remember hearing that my other grandmother had a baby who didn’t live long.  What I don’t remember ever hearing the name of that baby.  Tonight I discovered her name was Elsie and she was born on April 28th.  She was apparently names after my grandmother’s older sister.

In just an hour of searching I found names of great aunts and uncles, great-great grandparents, great-great-great grandparents as well as the names of their children.  Several Alfred’s and Mary’s.

History is amazing and I think I’ll continue to dig a little deeper.  I can only imagine what I’ll find growing on my family tree.

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Happy Easter

As kids, Easter was a day of celebration beginning with my sisters and me running downstairs in excitement to find our Easter baskets full of small toys and lots of candy.

I’ve carried this tradition forward with my children and just like Easter mornings of my childhood, my girls ran downstairs this morning with excited chatter as they discovered the Easter Bunny had brought each of them some fun Easter treats.

As I thought of Easter, I realized that I really didn’t know how the Easter Bunny came to be part of the celebration.   I don’t remember questioning the Easter Bunny as a child. He was just part of my Easters growing up and I was just grateful that he saw fit to bring me a basket every year.   I was raised to believe that Easter was a Christian holiday.  A celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  So how did a bunny become part of this holiday.  Somehow the two just don’t seem to go together, so I did a little research.

It seems that prior to Christianity being introduced in Europe, festivals were held in celebration of spring. They celebrated renewal, birth, rebirth, and fertility.

The Goddess Eostre was the goddess of fertility and her symbol was the hare. What better animal than a rabbit as the symbol of fertility. Tradition states that Eostre cast the hare into the heavens and when we look up at the stars now, we can find the constellation, Lepus the Hare. There are also stories that state Eostre gave Lepus the ability to lay eggs once a year. Eggs are also a symbol of fertility.

One thing that was quite common for Christians was the attempt to take pagan celebration and incorporate them with Christian celebrations and traditions. So as Christianity began to spread into Europe, the pagan celebrations of spring and Eostre were crossed with the ideas and rituals of Christianity.

The first stories of the Easter Bunny comes from Germany in the 15th century and in the 1800’s it was a German tradition to make chocolate bunnies as part of the Easter celebration. So when German settlers came to the United States, they brought their own traditions with them. Part of that celebration was the Easter Bunny or as the German’s called him, Osterhase, who layed brightly colored eggs. He would make special nests in the caps and bonnets of good children. Eventually the tradition grew to include chocolates and candies with the caps and bonnets being replaced with baskets.

So it appears that Christians decided to change things up a bit and added their own twist to a pagan celebration of springtime.  A big part of those pagan festivals celebrated fertility and since the symbol of fertility was a hare, we now have a bunny introduced as part of the celebration.  Mix in a little German history of Easter and the Easter Bunny and now I understand how a bunny became part of Easter.  The story is a bit crazy, but I do want to give a special shout out to the Germans for introducing chocolate bunnies into Easter  🙂

My girls certainly enjoyed their Easter celebration, although they didn’t get any chocolate bunnies this year.  We did do something a little different though.

I years past, I have always purchased the little colored tablets you put in vinegar or water to dye the eggs.  This year I decided to go natural and used beets, blueberries, turmeric, paprika and spinach to color our eggs.  It was a great experiment and other than the spinach, the girls and I really liked the results and will continue using the natural dye method in the future.

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Lili got to work on a little puzzle she got for Easter.

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Naomi with her Easter basket.

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Overall, a good day!