Monday, July 5, 2010

Before Time Slips Away

Before Time Slips Away

The other day, I received word that my aunt, my mother's sister, had passed away.  She was the last of the siblings and now my generation becomes the senior generation of our family. It certainly makes me aware of my own mortality and the need to get my "personal house in order" because my time here on earth gets shorter with each passing day.  When you are young, even at 30, being 70 looks so far away!  But before you know it, there it is, staring you in the face and you are wondering how time slipped away from you so quickly. After all, you have all these things that you still want to do with your life and to fill your days with and you are now running out of time.

How long has it been since you have gotten together with not only your immediate family but your extended family, your aunts, uncles and cousins? With everyone spreading all over the country nowadays, instead of all living close to one another as they did in the olden days, it can be difficult to keep up with all the members of your family and get together often.

School is over for this year and the kids will be out for summer vacation. Perhaps you haven't thought about anything special yet for this summer, finances might be a bit tight so why not plan something close to home that you can all enjoy. How about doing a big family reunion where everyone can get together, share some good food and laughter together.

Many city parks and state run lakes and parks have pavilions that you can rent for the day where you can have your gathering if there are a lot of you that will be getting together. Make it one huge picnic, with everyone bringing something. Maybe all chip in to have someone be responsible for purchasing all of the meat and then everyone else bring covered dishes and drinks.

Use this get together to gather information about your family history.

Be sure to set up some committees to handle the organizing of the event
Have at least a couple of people taking photographs, both casual ones of activities and also group family photos so you can keep track of who is in what family grouping.

A welcome table for people to register at and name tags will be a must

Some activities that you can do at the reunion:

Post a large family tree on a wall  that illustrates as many generations of the family as possible. Ask family members to find themselves, highlight their names, and correct any inaccurate information. The family tree then becomes a record of the event and is a good source of genealogical information. Family members will also have a visual representation of the family structure, its history, and their place in it.

Memory Lane Story Hour. Set aside a quiet place for the younger children to gather with one or more grandparents, aunts or uncles. Ask the adults to tell stories about their childhoods. This is a great way for the children and the older generations to connect. Next, set up a video camera on a tripod (if no one owns one you can use, call camera stores about rentals. It's pretty inexpensive for a single day). Buy lots and lots of blank tapes (if you don't take them out of the wrapper and save the receipt, you can return what doesn't get used and still not run out at the reunion). Next, ask each person (or family) to sit in the chair and tell about their family, the extended family and any family history or lore that they know about. This is especially great if you have several elderly members attending. Ask them to talk about what the reunions were like "back when", or about how their life was as children, etc.You might want to mention ahead of time, in the reunion newsletter that you will send out, that this will be done.  That way people can start to think about what they know about "their" side of the family and maybe even look through their photo albums to jog their memory.

How about a family softball game? 
Bring a bat and a softball and something to represent the bases. Teams can be formed based on any criteria you choose, such as a members of a single family, people with the same surname, people with the same hair or eye color, or people wearing the same color T-shirts.

 Organize a sack race.
Ask each family to bring an old pillowcase or a gunnysack to the reunion for a sack race. You can make this an individual competition or organize teams to compete in a relay-style race.

Volleyball games are always fun!
. If you don’t have a net, don’t worry. All you really need is the ball. However, if you want something to act as a net, use a rope or cord of some kind stretched between two posts or tree trunks.

Play card games. Bring several decks of cards, score pads, and pencils to the reunion so everyone can get involved in a card game. Many families play a traditional card game when they get together, such as Rummy, Canasta, Bridge, Pinochle, Rook, or Hearts. Card games also come in handy when the weather doesn’t cooperate with outdoor activities. Board games are also fun, be sure to bring some for all age groups that will be attending. You might have Chutes and Ladders for the younger children, Monopoly, Charades and Trivia Pursuit for the older group and adults.

Bring old family pictures
, even those of people who are now deceased. Perhaps someone will wish to have some copies made for themselves so be sure to put out an order form to fill requests. Any members who really are into genealogy will appreciate this a lot.

Invite attendees to submit favorite family recipes -- from their own family or one passed down from a distant ancestor. Ask them to include details on, memories of and a photo (when available) of the family member best known for the dish. The collected recipes can then be turned into a wonderful family cookbook. A great fundraising project for the following year's reunion!

Horse Shoe Tournament
there's nothing like an old fashioned game of horse shoe tossing and most parks have areas already set up.

Memory T-Shirts

If you have more than one branch of an extended family attending your reunion, consider identifying each branch with a different colored shirt. To further incorporate the family history theme, scan in a photo of the branch's progenitor and print it out on an iron-on transfer with identifiers such as "Joe's Kid" or "Joe's Grand kid." These color-coded photo t-shirts make it easy to tell at a glance who is related to who. Color-coded family tree name tags offer a more inexpensive variation. If something like this is cost prohibitive, you might just get different solid color T-Shirts and permanent color marker pens and let each person go around and get signatures of the people in attendance put on their shirts and have them put their relationships under their names.

Family Reunion Memory Tablecloth

Take an inexpensive solid color tablecloth and have everyone sign it using permanent markers. On one of the corners be sure to indicate that it is for the Family Reunion and the date. This can begin a tradition where each year a new tablecloth is created. Each year, bring all the tablecloths that have been created and see how the family is growing!

Many Hands Make Light Work

First of all you will need someone to be the General Organizer of this function, someone that the other committee chairmen can come to for advice and assistance. The person who will be the one to be sure that all committees are functioning properly and completing their assigned tasks.

I would probably suggest that the person who is your family genealogist be the person in charge of this operation.
That person could be responsible for getting a list of all the names and addresses of all family members. Also include their email addresses.

Food -deciding if everyone needs to contribute a set amount to purchase some items, such as meat, soft drinks, paper goods and what "share dishes" will be brought and by whom.
Entertainment - setting up games and entertainment. Supervising the activities the day of the reunion.
Location and accommodations -finding a good place to have the reunion and checking with hotels and motels for discount rates and availability
Newsletter- Make sure you announce the idea of a reunion well ahead of when you wish to have it and give them several dates where they can express their preferences. Be sure to continue newsletters, keeping everyone informed of the progress being made, asking for committee chairmen and volunteers to help.
Post happenings on your family genealogy website or set up a family reunion website. If you already have a family website like we do, post on it frequently about the reunion. This will get everyone excited about the event and assure you of a good turnout. If you do not have a family genealogy website set up, this might be a good time to start one, otherwise put up a website strictly for your family reunion event.

Some websites to consider:

Reunion Websites

Friday, July 2, 2010

They Serve

1/2 Man and 1/2 Boy
To those who serve............ God bless and keep you safe!

The average age of the military man is 19 years.
He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who,
under normal circumstances is considered by
society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind
the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old
enough to die for his country. He never really
cared much for work and he would rather wax
his own car than wash his father's, but he has
never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he
was at home because he is working or fighting
from before dawn to well after dusk. He has
trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and
reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop,
or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation,
but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.
He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never
to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals,mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.

If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons
and weapons like they were his hands.

He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

 Researching History

I started taking advantage of the free access to last night, finding documents on my ancestors. What an adventure!  I became so engrossed that I felt like I was actually back in that era and totally lost track of time. Before I knew it the sun was up and I was still at the computer, by this time lost in the Battle at Fishkill!  I have an ancestor who fought in that battle,  James Andrews . I also Found records for Jacob Weygant, Son of Captain Cornelius Weygant (sometimes spelled Weygandt) who was with 2nd Company 5th Battalion of the Northampton Militia.

Do you have any idea how proud I am when I found the records of Private Jonathan Hubbard?  He is one of my ancestors!  He served under Captain James Sherman and Col. Pyncheon. He marched on The Alarm of April 19, 1775, sometimes referred to as the Lexington Alarm, the beginning battle of the war for independence from Britain.  This is the battle where you always hear of the famous ride of Paul Revere.  Many do not know or have forgotten that there were actually two messengers that night, Paul Revere and William Dawes, spreading the alarm throughout the countryside.

I continue to search for records of Ensign Bradley Seelye and Pvt Benjamin Seelye. They are documented in my genealogy by registrations with the DAR but I would love to learn more about them then just numbers in a book. I do know that Benjamin Seelye was killed at the Battle of Ridgefield.  So tonight I will venture back in time, via this wonderful Internet and see if I can locate information on that battle.

I have so many who fought in the various battles of our country that I want to learn more about, all the way back to Daniel Loomis who fought in the French and Indian Wars and Richard Olmstead who fought in the Peqout War. So much to learn and so little time.

Thank you again Footnote for making these records available free for us to use through July 7th. After using this website, I can recommend it highly and something that I feel will be worth getting a membership in.