About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

Today is 21 December, the Winter Solstice. It is also the anniversary of the day my parents married, back in 1940 ("the longest night of the year," my father was always quick to add ... though they selected that date because it was convenient for all family members and at the semester break for my father, who was a math professor at Illinois Institute of Technology - the wedding took place in my mother's home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin). Both my parents are gone now, but I decided to look back in Mom's diaries to read what they did on their anniversary 40, 50, and 60 years ago. It was essentially the same each year: they were preparing for Christmas and the arrival of one or more of their parents. Mom baked, cleaned, and shopped. Nothing overly memorable for an anniversary. There were no notations of anniversary gifts, given or received, by either parent (though in 1968 there was a mention of my giving them salt and pepper shakers ... well, I was 17 and it was a needed item). I do remember, very distinctly, that on their 25th anniversary (1965) we went to the Kungsholm restaurant/miniature opera theater in Chicago and were treated to a puppet show of gigantic proportions! (Information on the operation can be found on the Web and looking at the results of my Google search for "Kungsholm, Chicago" brought back memories.) Mom & I enjoyed it but my brother and father would have been much happier staying at home and playing cards or Scrabble. That was also the occasion of my first taste of caviar (I didn't like it).

When my parents married they didn't have to spend any money on flowers to decorate the church: it was completely decked out in holly and poinsettia plants. One advantage of marrying close to Christmas, I guess. They looked very happy in those old wedding photos and I still have their guest book (though it suffered a great deal from a fire in their storage facility a few years later) and left over invitations. They kept everything.

So, happy anniversary, Mom and Dad ... I remembered!

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