Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A step-by-step guide on how to . . .

. . . take an empty bookcase and turn it into a Family Museum with pictures.

1. Take a 30” x 46” or other size that fits your needs and space. Many of these bookcases are available at home stores and online. Some required assembly, others are sold fully constructed, however, make sure the shelves are adjustable. Material will vary from solid wood to particle board. Whatever your preference, there are many to choose from.
2. Assemble the shelves placement according to the height and shape of the heirlooms you are placing on the shelf.  Consider the subject matter: who are you showcasing and what items best tell their story.

3. When I first started out, I just put all the things on the shelves to help me sort through them.  As I did, the size and nature of the items gave me hints on how to display them. For instance, on the top shelf, I placed the few items I had of both my Grandparents: Lithuania one the left side, Italy on the right. The only lighting I had available was by lamp, however, there are many types of lighting you can install, such as rope lighting.   

4. On the second shelf I displayed my parent’s photographs at different ages, single and as a couple. The certificate in the back was given to my father by the Association of Machinist for 30 years of service. This was his profession and it afforded him to support his family.

5. The third shelf is dedicated to my dad. And he saved everything, or just about. This is an eclectic collection of assorted items, most having some relationship such as his work shirt (always from Sears and in grey) that he wore when he owed a gas station, and a business card was somehow was saved through the years. He was a builder (self-taught & built his home). He liked cigars and playing the harmonica. A pair of eyeglasses, his wallet, a collection of coins, a pocket watch, lighter, matches, and a bottle of ashes from Mount Saint Helen that erupted in Missoula, Montana on May 19, 1980 that his nephew sent him and that is granddaughter took to her 4th grade class for show-in-tell. And that’s exactly what your Family Museum is all about, show and telling the story of a family member that honors their past.     

6. The fourth shelf is dedicated to mom and her Italian family. Mostly photographs and a few items  such as her hand mirror, religious statues, book of memories, and her brother’s World War I Victory Medal for his service in the United States Military, in which he fought, was wounded, but thankfully returned home. The bronze medal features a winged Victory holding a shield and sword on the front created in 1919 and awarded to any member of the U.S. military who had served in the armed forces between 1917 & 1920 in 13 locations. My uncle served in France.
7. The bottom shelf displays a rarified grouping of my dad’s things, some of which I haven’t the slightest idea what they are and will never know, along with the things I do, such as the chucks of coal from his coalmining days in Pennsylvania, along with his miner’s steal canister wrapped in an orange leather case my father strapped to his belt before he went down into the coal mine. It was called a self‑rescuer. It was an air filter with a breathing apparatus that he would use in case of a cave-in. I wish I had more of his things, but what I do have I will cherish forever.  

That’s it. A simple bookcase turned into a Family Museum that displays & protects two generations from two countries who came to America and contributed their talents and produced future generations to carry on their legacy. But it is up to you to save it!  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The time is now . . .

Happy New Year. . . And the time is now to create your Family Museum.

We had a snow storm here a few day ago and while we were snowed in, it was the best time to start taking down all the Christmas decorations. I ask myself every year why does it take only a few days to take them down yet a week to put them up. Then I look at this picture showing 8 of many more bins filled with indoor & outdoor decorations. By time everything is sorted out and displayed and the bins brought back down to the basement, I can see why it takes a week to get it all in place. Then when it’s time to put it all away, up come the bins and they get filled again.  I can’t believe that in less than 11 months from now, we will do it all again. Wow!

As I went about dismantling all the pretty lights and nick knacks that make our Christmas enchanting, I can’t believe how many of these decorations have been with my family for years. I could make a family museum just out of these decorations. Thus, this idea prompted me to write about the history and memories that reside in all those trimmings, especially the lovely memories many of our tree ornaments hold.

The white angel is a mystery. I can’t recall where or when she graced our home but she always has a place, particularly on top of the television cabinet. Made of paper and yarn, she is quite fragile but sturdy in her determination to always be part of our Christmases.  

Santa on a white goose is our family motto. Long story short, our last name Goesel (German pronunciation Goosell; an umlaut is over the รถ) means goose herder, which my husband’s family trade was long ago in Germany. So it is befitting to have Santa ride a goose. This one is delicate and proudly sits on our fireplace mantle. I bought him at an interior decorating shop many years ago. I thought it was a great find and will always preside during Christmas.

We call them “The Singing Goesel’s” and if they could sing, they would be very melodious. I found them at the Colonial Williamsburg gift shop and every year added another figure. There is Grandpa & Grandma, Uncle & Brother, Father & Mother, son & daughter and all the pets, sadly no longer with us as is a few of the family members. So it is lovely to display them on the piano at Christmas, recalling their memories and the fun we had.

Jack Frost adorns our tree, his magical spirit reigns supreme. I bought him for my daughter many years ago and here is why. When she was about 8 years old, she went with me and my father’s family in Pennsylvania to visit his mother. One night it got real cold and the next morning frosty, fern-like patterns appeared on the windows. I said to my daughter, come quickly, Jack Frost was here! At first that scared her because she didn’t know who Jack Frost was. I told her he was a spirit foretelling that wintertime will soon be here. And sure enough, it snowed that day. So every Christmas she likes to hang this ornament herself and fondly recalls that frosty day.

Santa! He is my favorite decoration. Almost four feet tall, he sports a fine white beard, bushy eyebrows and very kind eyes. His cloak and hat are velvet green, his long dress a silky green plaid with a satin ribbon tied at his waist and a large bell around his neck. He carries a basket of toys, a teddy bear and hanging from his shoulder is a cornucopia of fruit and berries. He is just beautiful and keeps a very special memory alive for me. Many years ago my mom and I went to a senior citizen home having a holiday bazaar. Many of the decorations were handmade by the merchants and they were all so very proud to show and sell them. Santa was made by very artistic couple. He built Santa from a piece of wood and he sculpted is face from clay. His wife made the clothes and together they created this Santa. My mom convinced me to buy him and we both couldn’t wait to get him home. That is one of my most cherished memories because my mom is no longer with me, but her spirit lives in my Santa. Merry Christmas mom, dad and all those who have gone, but their memories will always be with me at Christmas time and always.