Monday, January 2, 2012

The Gift

I have not been on vacation.  I decided to walk the walk.  A small break to create a gift for my family.  The typical December 24th trip to the Petrol Station to find three Johnny brushes would have been easier.  This year we pulled out all the stops and made a plan to develop a ancestry history present for my kids.

The plan was to first complete the form that I gave everyone last year called "Upon My Death".  Why didn't anyone tell me how much work that was?  Second, I would fill out the form that I developed two years ago "In The Life Of".  I'm still not done?  Third, I wanted to download and pass on our ancestry family site.  Just in case something were to go wrong.  That was much more complicated than I thought.  Easy to get the GEDCOM file of the 17,000 names and associated stories and pictures.  Then you have to tell them what to do with it if were to fall off the planet.  Forth, all the family photo's, notes, and information that I have collected over the last 3 years.  Fifth, all the family contacts.  Sixth, the family stories.  And last but not least a cover page that explains everything.  Two months of work that will never be finished.  They have everything I could get together.  Now wait 30 years and maybe they will figure out how big a gift it was.

A special thank you to all those that helped us get everything together.  To all the family members that have helped gather the family history, thank you.

Christmas Peace

You can go through your whole life not understanding the meaning of Christmas for others.  Yes, the real meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  For some it means getting presents, then you learn the true joy is seeing the face of someone light up when they open the gift you have given them.  For the marketing experts, business owners, and CEO's it is that time of year for the payoff.  The one month that funds the other eleven.

I remember how excited I would get as a little boy.  The anticipation of unopened presents.  With every Christmas carol, the excitement would build.  The day comes when you go out and get the Christmas tree, decorate the house, put the tinsel on the tree.  What we failed to understand is that one second that we will never get back but we may never forget.  Wish I would have paid more attention, had a video camera, anything that records, or a memory that could store everything and play it back in slow motion.  For many, Christmas memories are not there best moments in life, for the troops another day to far away from home.

I read a story about soldiers in the winter of 1914, the first world war.  This story is about a conflict between Germans and the English.  Trenches in some places as close as 60 feet.  Better known as "No Man's Land", the distance between enemy trenches were a world apart, separated by language and history.  Soldiers in knee deep mud a long way from home and an enemy that would shoot your head off if you stood up.  At the top of the food change the Germans proposed a Christmas truce and the English thought it was not a good idea.  In this terrible circumstance and under orders to keep up the shooting, enemy soldiers must not have been in the shooting mood.  The German boys received packages from home, candles and Christmas trees.  They lit the candles and set the trees where the English could see them.  They started singing Christmas carols.  The English would clap.  Then something magical, enemies would take turns singing and the other clapping, then they sang together, shared photos, food, games, and drink.  The worst of enemies, under orders, were overtaken by Christmas.

What does Christmas mean to you?  What are you going to remember about this Christmas?  It could be that our memories were the real gift and now it's our turn to give.  What memories can you write down today that will save history for those that will read it 100 years from now?

I hope you had a truce this Christmas?  Have a glorious New Year!    Only 357 day until Christmas.

The picture: A cross, left near Ypres in Belgium in 1999, to commemorate the site of the Christmas Truce in 1914. The text reads:
1914 – The Khaki Chum's Christmas Truce – 1999 – 85 Years – Lest We Forget.  A special thanks to Redvers.