Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ready for the New Year? I am . . .

 . . . Because when something is new, you feel embolden to give it your best shot. That is what this New Year is going to be for me, giving it all I got to blog about the many reasons why everyone should have a Family Museum in their home and other places.  

There are many topics and stories I will share with you in hopes that they will inspire you to save your heritage for yourself and your family and all the generations that will follow. As I mentioned before, I am writing a book on my blog and with diligence and patience, it will be available as soon as possible.

And now that all the gifts have been opened, put in their proper places, don’t forget to put something of this Christmas and holiday season into your museum, wherever it is located or what it is in. If you need to put it away for later, that’s fine, but don’t forget about it. Jot down on your calendar what and where you saved it, so when you are ready to display it, it will be at your fingertips.

Life moves so fast sometimes, memories can become blurred like the scenery outside the car window as you speed along the highway. When you have to stop, do not look down at your phone, radio or any other thing that distracts you from looking out the window. Take that moment to take in the sight before you, taking a deep breath, stretching your arms and hands, and mostly your eyes, for there are so many things that we don’t see that need to be seen. So as you wait for the light to switch or take your turn at the stop sign, just look around.

As a gesture of appreciate and encouragement, I offer this, one of my most favorite songs that heartens you to look around. These words and melody always made me feel good and that is what I wish you to feel. So take this moment to listen and look around.

Written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Sergio Mendes, Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. Spirit Music Group.


And what a great year this will be.


Elizabeth Goesel

Family Museum Curator

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Where did all the time go . . .

It seems like just yesterday it was Halloween. About 110 amazing costumed ghosts & goblins, movie stars, princesses, warriors, even politicians came to our house. The next morning, we took down the decorations, left pumpkins & bale of hay for 
Thanksgiving. Then for the next eight days, we finished packing for our family holiday to Florida, leaving after Election Day. We wanted to be home to watch Mr. Trump win! The next morning, with a new spring to our step, bags loaded into the car, off the four of us went to FL, making our first stop in Macon, GA to see the
Hay House, a pre-civil war mansion restored & opened to the public. This house is truly a Family Museum, showcasing and displaying the family’s history through the years. Magnificent!
Next day we arrived in FL, staying in a condo on Treasure Island Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.
We stayed for a week having fun on the beach & enjoying the sunsets. My dear friend Donna came for a few days and had a
great time walking on the beach
and taking in the warm sunshine having left a frigid Chicago. Sadly, she had to return, so we took her to the airport, said our goodbyes, then off we went on our holiday for another week, visiting St. Augustine, Charleston, NC,
Cape Hatteras, traveling by ferry to the Outer Banks, spending our last night in Kitty Hawk where we celebrated our 47th Wedding Anniversary. WOW! 

Arrived back home, the day before Thanksgiving. I was glad I bought the turkey before we went, so we had our Thanksgiving Holiday. The next day, out came the Christmas decorations, for we were hosting a Christmas Party with a sit-down dinner for 19 guests. So after putting up the decorations, setting up for the party, cleaning up after the party, in between trying to do some Christmas shopping, I was upset that I had not posted on my Family Museum Blog. But somehow I felt assured that there were many others who were just as busy if not more with jobs, school, family members, travel obligations, etc., allowing little time to read the blogs they enjoy.

So here are a few words to everyone who shares these dilemmas: hang in there! Christmas and all the special Holidays are almost here,
so please take the time to enjoy them, delight in them, and make lots of memories that need to go into your Family Museum, so you and your loved ones can remember and shared them for years to come.

  Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!
Epiphany!  Boxing Day,   Kwanzaa,
Omisoka & Yule!

and all the other multicultural holiday celebrations.
Then after the gifts have been opened, the feasts consumed, the decorations put away for another year, and all the pictures and videos organized, please remember to display as much as you can, because these memories are your visible genealogy, which I will explain further in the New Year.
So from my family to yours, 
Merry Christmas!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or Treat . . .

In America, trick-or-treating has been a Halloween tradition since the late 1920s. The phrase, Trick or Treat are customarily idle words of warning to perform mischief on the homeowners property if no treat is given to the children who knock on their door or ring the doorbell, looking for candy and treats. This is usually not the case today. Kids just want to have fun dressing up in a favorite character of theirs and go to the homes deck out for Halloween.  

At our house, which seems to have become known as the best house to go to, come lots of kids. And we know approximately how many kids will come because we keep a count. As the kids come up onto the porch, we count them, marking the number on a piece of paper. When the lights go off, we tally the number and keep that info for the next year. We have had to increase the number of bags over the years, but we always have enough.

It took us many years to get it right. The week before Halloween, we buy the candy, little prizes and bags. We clear the dining room table and separate the candy and prizes and one-by-one, fill each bag. Now, as they come up the driveway and sidewalk, some simply run across the yard, they line up and oddly enough, are courteous to the other kids. They wait their turns as the ones on the porch reached into a large basket filled with sealed paper bags. (Frist we used clear sandwich bags, but then the kids got smart and if they didn’t like what they saw, they picked another. Kids are clever!)  After they take one each, they leave and the next ones do the same, until all the bags are gone. In 360 days, we will do it again. Whew!

And we have lots of fun, too. My hubby and I arrange chairs on the sidewalk and we sit there watching and talking to the kids as they come. The parents of the little ones stay on the street taking pictures. Our daughter sits on a rocking chair on the porch with her paper and pen, watching and talking with the kids. Many know her from her years of babysitting and working the kid’s camp in our neighborhood. And has the years go by, the kids get older and stop coming only to be replaced by new generations of cute and scary guys and gals.

We truly make Halloween a family holiday and enjoy seeing these kids have a good time. Some of their costumes are out-of-this-world, and you can tell they worked hard on them, or perhaps a parent did making them. I personally can only remember two significant Halloweens: one when I was about nine years old and going to my cousin’s neighborhood and getting lot of candy, even money. The other was when my hubby and I just got engaged and we dressed up and went around his neighborhood, getting on our knees to appear small when the door opened, stood up, scaring their socks off. Then of course, our children’s Halloweens, dressing them up, walking around with them, and eating most of their candy.

So have FUN, don’t scare the kids too much, and indulge your sweet tooth.

Happy Halloween   

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Never forget a Birthday . . .

Yesterday would have been my dad’s 100st birthday. Sadly, he passed away in 2004, but there is hardly a day that goes by that I do not recall him in some way. It’s the little things like his off-the-wall witticisms. He was good at them, such as the popular Midwest adage, “Oh, go jump in the Lake (Lake Michigan, that was), Or this one, Oh, go scratch! And when I would get hurt, a scraped knee or a fall of my bike, he used reverse psychology and told me, “To do it again. He didn’t see it happen the first time!” That would get me so mad, but he would smile and made sure that I was alright. His smile was so genuine and his heart knew no bounds. 

The one constant characteristic about Dad is that he saved everything. Before hoarding became part of our lexicon, I remember living with piles of things, from boxes and newspapers reaching the ceiling, to walking in carefully placed paths around more piles of things. My mother would have a hissy-fit, but he turned a deaf ear. So, through the years, his stuff crowded every space imaginable. When push came to shove, and by virtue of relocations, much of his stuff disappeared. What remained we saved has much as we could. We looked through tons of boxes and bags, coffee cans, where ever Dad could find space to stash things.

As we investigated, we found the treasures. Boxes filled with oddities, like his coal miner’s breathing protection equipment for gas detection and lantern. He even saved a chuck of coal. Dad was a coal miner in Pennsylvania. He despised the work and as soon as he could, he joined the Navy. A veteran of WWII, he was on the USS Enterprise when it was hit by Japanese kamikaze, surviving by his wits alone. Later in his retirement years, he wrote about his life. I would see him sit at his desk and handwrite his thoughts. He had extremely fine penmanship. But he would not talk or share his writings.

Among these treasures were those writings. If they were not found, I would have never known so much about his life he wouldn’t talk about. Just before he passed away, I presented him with a hefty notebook filled with his papers, photographs and keepsakes. I have yet to finish it, as I am still finding paraphernalia I insert in the album.

Then I found a real treasure tucked into a birthday card he gave me. Dad was not a big gift giver. Mom took care of that. But here was a short note written to me and it took my breath away. I framed it and put it into our Family Museum.  It is a wonder how something that so easily could have been discarded sat hidden away for 22 years. Thank you dad for these precious words I will always cherish. I just wished I had him, but his words are enough to give me the encouragement to carry on, because he knew I was going to be successful “in whatever you set out to do.”   

Happy Birthday, Dad.

I will always love you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Grandparent's Day 2016 . . . and Remembering 9/11

There is so much I would like to write about my grandparents, unfortunately, I only knew one well, two I can’t remember well enough and one not at all. On my side I have a few heirlooms and keepsakes, however, on my husband’s side, he as so much more. No matter, all that we do have is proudly displayed in our Grandparent’s Museum. Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book on How to create a Family Museum for you to ponder on.

After creating the parent’s and children’s museums, another museum was designed: The Grandparent’s Museum. No justice was had by trying to include the few items we both saved from our parent’s in our museum. These things needed a display of their own, therefore, we re-arranged the hallway which had dormer space with shelves stuffed with books. We moved the books downstairs into the home office bookcase.
Then we installed and established the Grandparent’s Museums. Space was tight, but after creating the other museums, I knew how to display our parent’s heirlooms. Again, by forming the sides; Maternal & Paternal, everything fell into place.
We are fortunate to have the Grandparent’s Museum. These heirlooms represent spectrums of their lives, their stories and memories. They will always be known by their Descendants. It is the reason our family exists.  And by seeing everyday these family members who are all sadly gone, the museum keeps their spirits alive. So if you have a little more space in your home, create a Grandparent’s Museum.  It is amazing what they can still contribute to the family, for their history is your history.   

NOTE:  Parting with the heirlooms: If a relative's age prevents them from making sound decisions as to who should get what, encourage the elder to part with the heirlooms while they are still with you. Have the elder give the item directly to the person they want it to go to or let them choose. That way they can share their memories which will make the heirloom personal and more valued.

To learn more about this day, click on this site.

. . . and Remembering 9/11. Today also marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks, the deadliest ever to occur on American soil. Grandparents, parents and children across the globe watched in absolute shock the horror taking place in front of their eyes as the stare at their televisions the terrorist attack. Anyone you talk to about this day can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing at that time.
So on this inauspicious day, try as we might to enjoy Grandparent’s Day, do it with solemnity, keeping in mind dignity and thoughtfulness for those whose lives perished and all those heroes who gave their all on that day.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day 2016 . . .

Though sad but true, some people work on this National Holiday; one of which is my husband. I think it's unfair, but there is really nothing that can be done about it, until he retires. As for me, I will take Labor Day off, but then I am somewhat retired already from the work-a-day world, but my work never ends. As a wife, mother, and all-around everything else, my days are filled with varied activities. When I’m not employed with household chores and supporting family member’s trials & tribulations, I write my blogposts about our Family Museum. And as you have read, this summer I have been writing a book on my blog. And just like the blog, it is an activity that is truly a labor of love and I look forward to creating a book filled with photographs, instructions on how to create a museum, along with suggestions and a reference guide, and several of our stories and mind-provoking thoughts on  why it is important to create a Family Museum.
And since my hubby has to work, I might as well do the same. Later, I will prepare a traditional Labor Day dinner of hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob, French fries, and coleslaw. Sounds good. You bet!

And I will leave you with a few thoughtful quotes to ponder on. Have a wonderful Labor Day!

“A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity.” -Thomas Jefferson

“There is no substitute for hard work.” Thomas Edison

“I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.”
John D. Rockefeller

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What Treasures!

Thinking that July was a hot month, August has been hotter. Steady temperatures in the 90s with heat indexes of 100 + and hardly any rain. Our vegetable gardens are not producing well and if we don’t water and harvest what was grown, either the bugs or the critters will enjoy the fruits of our labors. Though I do enjoy watching the hummingbirds and butterflies. But August is now coming to an end, many school have started their new year, and I am still writing and editing my blog into a book. However, I will pause a moment and pick up where I left off with my last post, Summer Surprises, a large envelope from a family member.

The envelope was sent to my husband from a cousin on his Norwegian side of the Family. There were many photographs, family tree information and a letter address to his parent’s containing a letter he and I wrote on behalf of finding support from family members to save the old homestead and farm in Artichoke, Minnesota. This quest did not have a happy ending – the family did not want to restore the property and we had to abandon the idea. But at least we tried. Yet, this long-forgotten letter is not the surprise. Tucked into that same envelope was a tiny typed note to Keith from his Aunt Alice, dated 1955. Here it is . . .

Alice’s parting sentence to tell her about his “Sunday school and about the children there,” was reflecting what Aunt Alice’s profession – A Medical Missionary in the Belgium Congo under the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society from 1929 to 1960. She sadly passed away in 1961. Here is a short biography taken from her obituary:
Alice Jorgenson was born May 21, 1895, and raised at Artichoke.
Besides her public school at Artichoke, she took training at Bethel Academy in St. Paul. After completing a course in nurse's training at the University of Minnesota training school, she took Theological training at Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago. In 1928, she sailed for Europe and took up further training in medicine and languages in London, England, and Brussels, Belgium, before sailing for Africa. She served as a medical missionary in the Belgian Congo under the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, In July of 1960, she was evacuated during the Belgian uprising and was flown and was flown back to the United States. Being past retirement age, she did not return to Africa where her heart really was.

During her years in the Congo, Alice collected and was given many African items, some of which Keith inherited and are now in our Family Museum. I asked Keith what he recalled most be about his Aunt Alice, and he said, “During one of her visits back home, she had an Ivory statue of a water buffalo and told me a story about it while I held it, telling me to be very careful with it.” The letter will be framed and put into our museum and forever cherished.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Summer Surprises . . .

What a hot month July has been. Perhaps not for everyone who reads this blog, but for those who have been loving the heat, keep soaking it up. For those like me who avoid it, summer is almost over. The days are starting to get shorter, going to camp and visiting the relatives are coming to an end, school will begin for some, and hopefully, cool weather will make its return. Meanwhile, summer still has a few surprises up her sleeve and just recently, my family received one in the form of a large envelop stuffed with family papers and photographs.
What treasures!

As previously mentioned, I am in the process of writing a book on this blog and it is taking me all summer to do it. Taking selected blogs and editing them into a book has not been easy, but enjoyable. Being dedicated to this project, I have not blogged as often as I should, however, during August, I am going to write about the papers and pictures we received and how they will be organized, preserve and displayed. After all, that is what having a Family Museum is about; showcasing your family’s history.
So log on to my blog as often as you can and see what was discovered. Until then, enjoy the remaining summer times and don’t forget to capture those moments any way you can.  A quote by Gail Lumet Buckley, a contemporary author, is very fitting for times spent with family and friends:

"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future. We make discoveries about ourselves."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Birthdays . . .

Last week Thursday was my birthday. I always said that someday I would go to Paris to celebrate my day because they have fireworks and more, commemorating Bastille Day. But alas, I did not go to Paris, but I had a love time celebrating my day with my family and friends. We went out to dinner and while waiting for our food, I opened my presents. Lots of books, including this cook book. Can’t wait to try out the new recipes.

So what do birthdays have to do with a Family Museum? Plenty! When I look into our museum, I see a few precious birthday present’s given to me. It really is a wonder that I still have them.  Here is one of the earliest pictures of me sitting at the head of the table for my third birthday. There is another picture of the part and I am holding a white stuffed kitty, but this critter is long gone.
As I grew older I guess jewelry was the gift to give, so I received a blue rhinestone pin of a ballerina, and charm bracelet spelling out July, and a watch. All of these pieces are in a shadow bow with an assortment of trinkets.  
 I loved paper dolls and the Lennon Sisters were my favorite; 4 dolls and lots of clothes kept me entertained for hours. I love Nancy Drew Mysteries and when I was about 12 year old, was given my first book. Now I have a good collections of her books, movies, even a jigsaw puzzle.  That was a real challenge.
Talking about challenges, the hardest one I have had is coping with the far-to early passing of my dear friend Barbie, who would have been 57 years today. So I take a moment on this day to send her a birthday wish, hoping that she is at peace.
And as a tribute to her, Barbie was with me when I went up into my attic to find all the boxed stuff that eventually made it into our Family Museum. When she asked me what was I going to do with all that stuff, I jokingly said, “Maybe I should put together a family museum.” The rest is history, our history, and you and your family should be saving and displaying your history, too.