Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Eve

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Christmas Eve is the time for the mince pie to be laid out ready for the visit from Father Christmas. Apart from that I don't remember doing anything else out of the ordinary either then or now.

This year was a little different, as today my parents popped round for a turkey lunch. The menu was roast turkey with feta and bacon stuffing, home-baked bread, home-grown salads and potatoes, home-grown strawberries, and a ridiculous number of chocolate-themed desserts (choc-mallow fudge, jaffa truffles, plum pudding truffles, chocolate pretzels, chocolate pinwheel cookies, and, erm, chocolates - I have an awful lot of chocolate cookbooks and couldn't narrow it down any further!)

This Christmas, may all my blog readers and fellow Wing genealogists have a plentiful table, and wonderful family and friends gathered round to share it with. And perhaps some spare time over the Christmas holidays to share some quality time with your ancestors, as well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Sweethearts

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

In my own family tree I have one Christmas marriage - Thomas Henry (aka Henry Thomas) CRUTCH and Elizabeth Verdy GARDINER were married on Christmas Day 1902 at St Marys in Datchet, Buckinghamshire. Their marriage lasted 25 years, until Elizabeth's death on New Year's Eve 1927, and produced two sets of twins amongst their nine children.

Up in Wing there are some Christmas marriages as well:

Isaac CHESHIRE and Jane GREEN - 1809
Charles COOK and Sophia CAPP - 1840
William DIMOCK and Esther BACKUS - 1843
Henry FOSTER and Mary BANDY - 1846

Happy anniversary to all our Christmas Sweetheart couples!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

We don't have any particular traditions for honouring deceased relatives at Christmastime. As we don't have a habit of staying in one place (or even one country) we have no local cemeteries where loved ones are remembered, and we don't set out a place for them at the Christmas table or anything like that. They are in our hearts at Christmas just as they are all year round.

Ruby, one of the "You Go Genealogy Girls", posted about her ancestor tree as part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, and I do like the idea of this. While we don't have extensive photos of generations gone by in our family I think we do have enough to make some ancestor ornaments for next year, and I may just do this.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Music

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

My parents report they used to go around the neighbourhood singing Christmas carols (favourite: O Holy Night). I do remember going caroling once with a school friend and her family/church group, but this is not something you really hear of much in modern-day NZ. I also did plenty of traditional carol singing in choirs at school and developed a loathing for Little Drummer Boy reasonably early on in primary school, although on the whole I love Christmas carols and songs (favourite of the the carols: Good King Wenceslas).

Our ancestors were undoubtedly singing their hearts out too - one activity that was festive and free! I know that one of my Wing ancestors, Alfred BAKER, was leader of the Wing band in the late 1800s so there was clearly a musical streak there, and what better way to cheer yourself at Christmastime?

Today my tastes in Christmas music reflect my taste in music generally - a bit of a hodge-podge! My ipod Christmas playlist - I feel very proud of myself for dutifully waiting until 1 December to start listening - has U2 rocking Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) side by side with Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby's duet of White Christmas, Harry Connick Jnr's It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, and Darlene Love's Winter Wonderland. I have a disturbing number of different versions of the latter song! These year I've downloaded some traditional carols, sung a cappella in Welsh. And I am firmly pro Snoopy's Christmas (can't help it) and Do They Know It's Christmas (lame lyrics notwithstanding).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Calendar - Religious Services

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

My family aren't religious so we never attended a Christmas service when I was little, although my dad was a choirboy back in the day so performed at plenty of Christmas services, and my mum also sang in a school choir in an abbey one Christmas.

Listening to the Queen's Christmas message would be the closest custom we have!

3pm, after Christmas lunch has been consumed and Christmas lunch dishes have been dealt with, is the traditional timeslot in England since Her Majesty's first televised broadcast in 1957, although I imagine previous radio broadcasts were at the same time. Here in NZ she's on after the evening news at around 6.50pm - although I might watch her on her YouTube channel this year!

This, of course, would have been quite different to our Wing ancestors' experience of Christmas. A message from the monarch in place of a message from the vicar would have been quite scandalous.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Shopping

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

My family is consistently organised and consistently early with everything. This of course extends to Christmas shopping, and I've had all mine done for a couple of weeks (although the last one was only wrapped a few days ago - the shame!). I doubt anyone in my family has ever braved the crowds on Christmas Eve, although I have worked Christmas Eve in retail so I know exactly what it's like from that side of the counter.

My parents report it was always a big event to go Christmas shopping. Seeing all the lights and decorations, and selecting a present to buy after having saved up your pocket money, was a big treat in itself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Stockings

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

When I was a kid one of my aunts made my brother and I some fancy Christmas stockings - I remember mine was blue and purple, a paisley print maybe? The stocking would be left across the end of the bed on Christmas Eve, and after we were asleep Father Christmas would pop by and leave some goodies in it. On Christmas morning the stocking presents would be the first ones to be opened - they were a free-for-all once we were awake, unlike the tree presents which were the formal part of proceedings post-breakfast.

In my head I remember the stocking in question being quite large. Whether this was just from a child's perspective or not I'm not sure, but there must have been a fair few things in it on Christmas morning - presumably carefully selected bulky items to fill it out!

One constant was the apple and orange. I have read that these were traditional English gifts representing health and good living respectively, but don't imagine the tradition can go back that far in history since oranges aren't exactly a native English winter fruit! My parents also always got an orange and an apple in their stocking-substitute, the pillowcase, and remember the oranges as a big deal since they weren't commonly available in England at all back then. A luxury fruit for a special occasion!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent Calendar - Grab Bag

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Leaving the mince pie out for Father Christmas is an important part of the English Christmas Eve ritual. One Christmas Eve long ago my father headed off to bed but then got thirsty so got up for a glass of water. To his horror, the mince pie was gone - but his parents were still up, the dog hadn't barked and the presents hadn't arrived under the tree yet. Quite the disturbing Christmas mystery for a young mind!

If you want to grab yourself something for this Christmas, a copy of Wing As It Was volume 2 just came up on Ebay, closing on Christmas Day. The book features a selection of old photos from Wing, including one of my 3xgreat-grandfather blacksmith Andrew POLLARD and the six men working for him. You can see a list of individuals in the book on my website here, and the Ebay listing for the book is here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas at School

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

I can't specifically remember school Christmases, except for singing plenty of Christmas carols! I think this is why I dislike pa rum pum pum pum.

Stay tuned until December 21st for more about Christmas music.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Calendar - Holiday Happenings

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Christmas was a great time to baptise your baby or marry your sweetheart - it was one of the rare holiday days you got so you weren't missing out on a day's pay! Alternatively the day's festivities were sometimes overshadowed with sadness when loved ones died or were buried over the holidays. Here's a rollcall of Christmas Happenings in my own family tree, and some others from throughout Wing's history (quite a long list!) - if I've missed your own ancestral Wing Christmas Happening please add it in the comments below.

Let's kick things off appropriately with the HOLLYMAN family! Mary HOLLYMAN was baptised 25 December 1755 in Cuddington, Buckinghamshire (she died two months later). James HOLLYMAN was baptised 25 December 1767 in Cuddington, Buckinghamshire, and his younger brother Charles was baptised on the same day two years later - these two were the younger brothers of my direct ancestor Brightwell HOLLYMAN who later came to Wing and caused a scandal.

There are several Christmas events surrounding my LATHWELL family in Wing. My 4xgreat-grandfather John LATHWELL married his first wife on Christmas Eve 1813 (in neighbouring Mentmore) and baptised their eldest son the following year on Christmas Day 1814. John later went on to marry Sarah HARDWICK, whose lot it was to labour on Christmas Day 1845 to give birth to my 3xgreat-grandmother Medora Jane LATHWELL.

Elsewhere in Buckinghamshire, my 5xgreat-grandmother Martha SIBLEY was baptised 25 December 1778 in Little Missenden. Further afield, one of my Oliver clan from Chilton Candover in Hampshire, Mary Anne OLIVER, was baptised on 25 Dec 1807, and my parish clerk ancestor John TRAFFORD was baptised 25 Dec 1809 in Finmere, Oxfordshire, where he lived all but the last year or so of his life.

And lastly, my great-great-grandfather Edmund Worledge WHITE died on 25 December 1911 in Willesden, Middlesex.

Happy Birthday to the Christmas babies of Wing, including:
Philip PITCHFORD - 1830
Medora Jane LATHWELL - 1845
Charles Thomas ADAMS - 1850
Sarah Jane WOOLHEAD - 1863
Mary DUNCOMBE - 1861

Baptised on Christmas Day were:
Katherine BUCKMASTER - 1548
Alice CARPENTER - 1549
Thomas COCK - 1553
Richard COCKE - 1556
John TURNEY - 1591
Elizabeth HICKMAN - 1689
Esther DIMMOCK - 1711
Jane DIMMOCK - 1725
Betty BULL - 1737
Matthew GOSS - 1776
Mary PRENTIS - 1777
Catharine HELEY - 1795
Mary WOODMAN - 1798
William WHITE - 1804
Whoever was presiding over Christmas services in 1807 did a good job rounding up the unbaptised who showed up:
Thomas BRASINGTON (aged 23) and son William BRASINGTON- 1807
William PAGE - 1807
Susanna HELEY (aged 2) and sister Mary HELEY (aged 9 weeks) - 1807
William GOSS - 1812
Martha PAGE - 1812
George BURROWS - 1813
John PERRY - 1814
Mary FOSTER - 1814
William LATHWELL - 1814
Patience STAPLES - 1815
Joseph PEASE - 1815
Ann FOSTER - 1817
Abel MUNDAY - 1817
Lucy PAGE - 1819
Hannah LAY - 1823
Ann HARDWICK - 1833
Betsy BRASINGTON - 1840
John CAPP - 1842
Bernard CUTLER - 1845
Sarah Ann THORN - 1845
Phillis CHAPPELL - 1845
Ann CUTLER - 1849
John Joseph NORTHWOOD - 1850
Sarah LOWENS - 1850
Sarah Ann MOORING - 1850

And remembering those residents of Wing buried on Christmas Day, including:
Richard BREWER - 1598
Elizabeth WATTS - 1625
William ARUNDELL - 1679
Rebecca MUNDAY - 1723 died of smallpox
Mary BURROWS - 1797 aged 44
Ralph DIMOCK - 1799 aged 6 months
Martha GREEN - 1804
Martha HICKMAN - 1805 aged 90!
Hannah PAGE - 1834 aged 11
John DIMMOCK - 1835 aged 22
Emily BONE - 1840 aged 6

I'll be celebrating the Christmas wedding anniversaries of Wing folk in a separate post on December 23.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Calendar - Fruitcake - Friend or Foe?

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Personally I'm a friend of fruitcake as long as it doesn't have nuts in it. A good fruitcake should do what it says on the hypothetical tin - fruit and lots of it! There are a lot of commercial "Christmas Cakes" available that are too cake-y - they just aren't as good as my Mum's. And no marzipan icing, thank you!

My fruitcake ancestor is Maria DELL from Amersham Buckinghamshire, a non-conformist lacemaker married to shepherd William KEEN. Christmas 1867 finds Maria resident in St John's Asylum in Stone, Buckinghamshire, suffering from "melancholia, several years", and her death certificate in 1876 describes her cause of death as atrophy after 31 years of mental derangement. Would this have been the saddest Christmas for the Keen family, or perhaps one of the happiest, thinking that Maria was getting help?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Calendar - Holiday Travel

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Christmas robin
Only a few Christmases have been spent away from home. Most notable was Christmas 2007 when I went to the UK to spend Christmas with my Grandad.

We arrived in England on 19 December, hoping for a white Christmas (this never being something that would happen in NZ). It was wonderful experiencing the short days, the general frostiness and the Christmas decorations in and on everyone's homes, but best of all was being able to spend time with Grandad and hearing more of his stories.

We planned out the Christmas feast with him (boneless turkey roast, the full range of roast veges, and the chocolate pudding from M&S Food), and I insisted on buying ridiculously posh Christmas crackers. We wanted him to have a great Christmas since he's normally on his own, and purchased numerous extra presents to complement those we'd brought with us - the present trolley below was pretty much all for him!

My brother arrived from London on Christmas Eve so we had a comparatively full house of four people for the big day. Grandad probably got a little tired of saying "Another one for me? Oh sweetie, you shouldn't have", the feast went off without a hitch, we got to watch the Queen and Doctor Who on TV at the "proper" times, and the only possible negative was the lack of a white Christmas. Although, just quietly, having a decent frost was a complete novelty for me and worked just as well!

frost on berry hedge
There were plenty of other highlights too, like being able to show my partner Snowdonia on a gloriously cold and clear day, travelling down to Cardiff to spend New Year's with his sister and her husband, seeing the madness that is Harrods Christmas Sale (all you've heard is true) and some further appreciation of English Heritage and National Trust properties. All in all, it turns out that one fabulous Christmas trip is plenty for me.

Llyn Gwynant, Snowdonia, Wales

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Calendar - Charitable/Volunteer Work

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Does the annual donation to the SPCA at the Santa Parade count? (They bring a goat each year. Yes, a goat.) I guess not. Christmas in our family is more about the immediate family than the wider community.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Calendar - Other Traditions

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Some other traditions from Mum and Dad's earlier Christmases that I've learned about this week:

No-one is allowed to open any presents until breakfast is over and the dishes are done (actually, that tradition is still alive and well)

Going for a walk as a family on Christmas afternoon

Having Boxing Day presents - these were small things like coins and biros, kept on or under the tree until Boxing Day when they could be opened.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Gifts

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

There aren't any unusual gift-giving traditions in our family - at least, not that we are aware are particularly unusual. We give presents to immediate family only (including grandparents), and as children would also receive presents from aunts and uncles. The odd small present might go under the tree in advance, and on Christmas Eve Father Christmas would top up the pile, ready for the grand opening ceremony on Christmas morning.

One thing that we do, that I now realise not all families do, is open each present individually. If you'd just opened a present, it was your turn to go to the tree to pick out a present for someone else to open. Everyone would then witness the opening of that present, and once the ooohs and aaahs were done and the paper neatly folded away that person would head to the tree to pick out the next one (for someone else obviously, it's poor form to select another of your own presents!) I'm not sure if this is just how our family does things, or if it's an English thing, or if it's because our family is pretty small. In my partner's whanau* the present opening is a chaotic free-for-all with paper flying everywhere!

Upon further investigation it turns out my Dad's family had a slight variant on this. Everyone would have purchased their presents for the other family members, wrapped them individually, and kept them in their bedrooms. Instead of bringing them out to go under the tree, each person would hand over the labels to the presents into a hat (except it wasn't literally a hat, it was a saucepan). Rather than individually picking presents from under the tree, the labels would then been drawn one by one out of the "hat", thereby revealing there was a present "from Kid to Dad", whereupon Kid would race off to their room and collect said present to be ceremonially handed over to Dad. If you'd purchased more than one present for someone, there would be multiple labels, so you'd never be quite sure if there were more presents for you still to be drawn out of the "hat" or not.

There weren't many individual presents that stood out in our minds, but my Mum remembered a sewing basket that she was once given, and a prized "99" white yoyo. I can also confirm that Santa still brings me a Terry's Chocolate Orange every year - thanks, Santa-Mum!

Once my Mum cottoned on to the fact that Nana was the one who would buy presents and hide them, rather than Father Christmas swanning in at the last minute, she wouldn't rest until she had located the hiding place and picked open the paper to see what everyone was getting. This is a family tradition of sorts as my brother inherited this particular trait, but I think other families may also recognise this gene!

* whanau - Maori for family - encompassing the (very) extended family and anyone else you'd choose to be family

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Advent Calendar - Grab Bag

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Here's some more photos from the Ellerslie Christmas Parade 2009. I wish I'd taken a photo of the shaved ice I had, it was so tasty!

The stockings were hung on the bagpipes with care.

What a great Grinchy trick - with this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!

High-five, Santa!

Then his security escorted him away.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cookies

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

When I think of Christmas, I certainly don't think of biscuits. One exception would be shortbread (mmmm), and the Danish sugar cookies that come in the big round tins at Christmastime.

Mince pies, on the other hand, now that's Christmas! A sweet, moist, fruit mince mix (that generally came from a jar but could always be made from scratch if you wanted) piled into home-made pastry and cooked until the glazed top was lightly crisped. Oh yes.

Mum's mince pies will always be one of my favourite Christmas memories.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Advent Calendar - Holiday Parties

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

We're not really party people, so we neither threw a holiday party nor attended any as far as I can recall. I think festive parties might be more of a tradition in the US than they are elsewhere - even today it would be rare here to have one with the exception of the work Christmas party.

Our ancestors from Wing undoubtedly didn't have any parties either - although the day off work on Christmas Day would have been a comparatively festive occasion.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Advent Calendar - Santa Claus

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

You want the truth? Well, here it is.....I saw Santa today! Honestly, I have proof!

Ellerslie Christmas Parade 6 December 2009
I had another encounter with Santa, aka Father Christmas once. When I was 7 or 8 I heard his sleighbells very distinctly one Christmas Eve. You know, when you factor in the different time zones across the world, it's not *that* hard for him to get around in one night.

While the elves are hard at work, Father Christmas hangs out at grottos in department stores (and on the odd Ford Model A in parades, evidently). This tradition goes back decades in England, as my mother reports going to see him back in the day. When she was seven her brother tried to claim that Father Christmas didn't exist but I'm sure the milk and mince pies were still left out for him, something that everyone did, even me!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Advent Calendar - Outdoor Decorations

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Outdoor decorations are a relatively newfangled notion here in NZ. Given that it doesn't get dark until at least 8.30pm outdoor lights are somewhat redundant, and outdoor decorations seems to me like an American import over the last 10 years or so. It's definitely taken off though, and there are particularly festive streets and houses that people will specifically come to see. One house, on my way to my parents' house, has large and elaborate snowmen and the like, although I don't recall spotting them yet this year. Myself, I've always had a secret hankering for a string of icicle lights around the house - can't afford to buy them this year, but maybe next year!

The English experience is different again from the NZ and US. Towns would each have their big outdoor tree and the official switching-on of the Christmas lights was a big occasion. I assumed this was a recent thing, probably because nowadays the switching-on is done by whichever celebrity (A-list for Oxford Street, D-list for elsewhere in the country - but this story charmed me this year) can be mustered up, but Mum tells me this was the big highlight of Christmas in the 1950s and 60s as well. No-one had outdoor lights or decorations then, apart from a wreath on the door, but she remembers looking forward to being taken into town to see the lights.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cards

A post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

The Christmas Card String was a green and white twisted affair, with teeny little pegs for clipping the incoming cards to it. This was then displayed strung across a wall. The string wasn't excessively long but it would definitely be surplus to requirements for today's Christmas cards - both incoming and outgoing have dwindled over the last decade to a handful, mostly overseas relatives and friends. The posting deadline to get cards to the UK always sneaks up on me!

I don't know that I ever specifically made any Christmas cards but I can prove I did receive some handmade ones. Yesterday I came across the one below from a workmate at Whitcoulls circa 1995, and the various details and in-jokes gave me as big a laugh now as it did then. Paula Travaglia, if you're out there, please email me!

My Mum remembers making Christmas cards for her grandparents, while the posh purchased ones went to non-family. I'd love to see one of those hand-made ones, but alas, they were not preserved for posterity.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Advent Calendar - Christmas Tree Ornaments

I have to confess that I am drawing a blank trying to remember any particular Christmas tree ornaments from my childhood, with one notable exception - the ouchy-lights. The coloured plastic coverings for the bulbs on one of our sets of lights had little spikes all over them, presumably to refract the light but also effective in stopping small fingers from touching things they shouldn't. I wasn't very fond of those lights.

I did love Christmas lights in general though, and it was a special treat to actually have them switched on! It doesn't get dark until 8.30pm-ish in December here in NZ so lights don't feature for as much of the day as elsewhere.

A non-commercial approach was standard procedure in my parents' time. Mum remembers making paperchains and various decorations from foil, and the tree would also be decked out with balls, stars, tinsel, lights and the fairy on top.

If it's cold and miserable outside like it is in England then it's more important that the inside of the house be festive and bright. Mum tells me that they had a lot of indoor decorations, particularly balloons, concertina paper ornaments stretched from one corner of the ceiling to the other and those ornaments that store flat but fold out to be clipped into a round 3D shape (there's probably a technical name for those) - now she's said it I remember we had those too when I was little.

When I was little I don't remember any hand-made ornaments, but I definitely made some beaded ball ornaments as a teenager. Perhaps they're still at my parents' place? I do have one hand-made ornament on my tree now though, a piece that I stitched some years back.

I dare say the children of Wing decorated the house with whatever they could find that took their fancy!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Advent Calendar - Holiday Foods

In New Zealand it's the height of summer at Christmastime. A barbecue is more appropriate than slaving away in the kitchen! As my parents are English, our Christmas was always more traditional than most families here though - I think we were the only ones I knew who had a formal sit-down meal at a beautifully laid out table. Our main Christmas meal came at lunchtime, as it does in England. Roast chicken, ham, roast veges, and then the most important course, pudding! There are three crucial components here. The first was the mince pie - my mother makes the most glorious mince pies, although I understand now that she considers this to be the Most Annoying Task of the season. They're worth it though, honestly! The second is the trifle, layers of sponge and fruit set with red jelly and topped off with custard. And lastly a Kiwi classic, the pavlova topped with fresh strawberries. I've never had a Christmas without one (well, except Christmas 2007 when I was in the UK, but that's a story for the 13th December according to our geneabloggers Advent Calendar schedule).

As our Christmas lunch was based on the traditional English one, the holiday foods my parents remember enjoying are similar (apart from the pavlova, of course). Turkey, sausage rolls and the usual hot roast staples, mince pies, trifle, Christmas cake, dates, nuts and sweets. Mum reports they didn't have anything for tea in the evening as they would all still be full, while Dad was fond of a turkey sandwich come teatime (the Coles family secret recipe is turkey, stuffing and tomato sauce). Dad reports roasting marshmallows on a fork over an open fire, and the tragedy of post-WWII-rationing affecting the sweet supply.

On the Wing One Place Study website I have a profile of Robert May, one of the first English chefs. Check out his Christmas bill of fare from 1660! Swan pye has fallen quite out of favour in the intervening centuries so you may need to make a few alterations to the menu....

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Advent Calendar - The Christmas Tree

Growing up, our Christmas tree was always an artificial one. I would guess it was probably purchased for my first Christmas in 1974. It had all the mod cons of the era - a wooden pole centre with drilled holes into which we would poke the individual branches (essentially sticks constructed of twisted wire with some green and silver tinsel bits poking out of them in a somewhat threadbare fashion). If I'm not mistaken it was the same tree all the way up until I went away to university in the early 1990s, when it was replaced with a top-of-line model (one for my parents, one for me, we have matching trees!). I believe Mum was in charge of putting it up and taking it down, on the appropriate days of course, and I'm sure she let us help decorate it - then probably fixed it up when we weren't looking!

In contrast, both my parents had real trees each year as children (they tell me there was no such thing as artificial ones back then so that wasn't an option). There was some confusion about the exact type of tree "a Christmas tree" might have been but evidently it would be some kind of fir tree or pine tree. My Nana (Mum's Mum) would complain about the mess from the tree - I know that when I would ask why we had an artificial tree and not a real tree I was told that real trees were too messy!

In England the Christmas tree first popped up in Victorian times - I can't imagine the majority of our Wing ancestors would have had one. The fashionable set would have followed Victoria and Albert's lead, of course, but the fashionable set were far and few between round Wing!

About the Advent Calendar

There is a whole community of genealogical bloggers out there writing on different aspects of their genealogical research and adventures. Our "cheerleader" is Thomas of, and there's no better time for cheer than Christmas!

This month, geneabloggers will be posting daily memories of Christmas traditions in their families, and I'll be posting along with them. It'll be what I remember (or don't remember) of Christmas growing up here in NZ and I'll also be asking my parents for some of their memories growing up in England. This won't be strictly relevant to Wing as the last Wing Christmas of my ancestors would have been in the 1930s, quite a bit before my time! If you or your family members have a Christmas memory related to Wing, please share them in the comments to each post (upcoming topics can be viewed here), or email them to me and I'll post them as a comment for you.

If you're in the mood for more cheer, more Christmas memories can be found here.

December update

It's finally here! My page about the millers and mills of Wing is now available on the website.

Other updates this month:
* The Neighbours page has been updated with links to Bedfordshire County Council's wonderful Community Archives project
* Several of the non-conformist pages have been updated with information from the above. Which day each month did a Baptist pastor travel over from Leighton Buzzard to preach? Which Wing residents were trustees of the Mill Road Primitive Methodist chapel in Leighton Buzzard? Hint - one of my own ancestors was amongst them!
* The Miscellany has some new and updated entries involving GREEN and WINGROVE. Have you reviewed the Miscellany for any snippets relating to your Wing families?
* Some LATHWELL men for the military pages. Incidentally, I and some other LATHWELL researchers are working on a Lathwell One Name Study.

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