In late 2007, several genealogy bloggers had an idea: why not create an Advent calendar using different Christmas and holiday-related topics for each day? Why not prompt other genealogy bloggers to write about family traditions and how they or their ancestors celebrated Christmas? Thus was born the first Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories also known as ACCM.
How It Works
1. Below you will find the prompts for each day leading up to December 25th. Topics cover Christmas trees, holiday foods, travel, religious services and more. We want to know how you, your family and your ancestors all celebrated or continue to celebrate these traditions. NOTE: the prompts have changed for 2013 in both sequence and content!
2. You aren’t required to submit a certain number of posts! The Christmas season is meant to be enjoyable and is already littered with too many deadlines. The goal here is to have genealogy and family history bloggers write posts of interest to them – from one to twenty-four posts! ACCM is meant to be fun not a burden.
3. The public is invited to submit their blog post for inclusion at ACCM simply by posting about that day’s particular topic and by including this statement at the end of their post:
“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”
4. Those who participated in previous years are welcome to repost their earlier entries or create new ones. Most of the topics are the same anda few of the dates even line up with those in previous years.
5. Starting Sunday 1 December 2013, the Advent Calendar post for that day will appear at the top of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories blog.
6. Posts with images will be pinned to a special ACCM board at Pinterest (see preview below). Your post must contain a suitable image in order to be pinned.
The Prompts for ACCM 2013
December 1 - Christmas Trees
What are your memories of your family putting up the Christmas tree? Many of us come from different traditions: some people won’t put up their tree until after Thanksgiving or even on Christmas Eve? Some like live trees and actually go out into the woods to cut their own while others prefer the convenience of an artificial tree.
Write about anything related to Christmas trees and your memories of Christmases past.
December 2 - Christmas Cards
Do you still send Christmas cards or has electronic communication taken the place of this tradition? Do you remember sending Christmas cards as a child – making a list, sending out your family’s cards and then checking the mailbox for cards sent to your family? How did your family display the cards?
Write about anything related to Christmas cards and your memories of Christmases past.
December 3 - Christmas Music
Christmas carols, church music and even more modern novelty songs are all a big part of our Christmas memories. What songs were your favorites as a child and are they still your favorites or do you have new ones? What about your parents or family members – were there certain songs or types of Christmas music played during the season? And how would you describe the type of Christmas music you like?
Write about anything related to Christmas music and your memories of Christmases past.
December 4 - Christmas Lights
Some families string up a few lights each year while others go nuclear and are destined to force their neighbors into a brown out situation. Did your family put up lights and outdoor decorations around Christmas time? What about the neighbors? And was it a favorite family activity to drive around to look at Christmas lights? What about any local attractions such as parks, zoos and the like which put up displays of lights and outdoor decorations?
Write about anything related to Christmas lights and your memories of Christmases past.
December 5 - Christmas Recipes
The smell of cookies baking in the oven or perhaps mulled wine on the stove top. What are your favorite recipes during Christmastime? Are they different than the Christmas foods your mother made? What about your ancestors – what were their favorite recipes and Christmas foods? Share your favorite recipe and the story behind it.
Post your favorite Christmas recipe and your memories of Christmases past.
December 6 - Santa Claus
Today is the Feast of Saint Nicholas and the origin of Santa Claus. What are your memories of Santa Claus and waiting for him to come at Christmas? What does Santa mean to you today and how do you pass along that meaning to family and to others?
Post your best Santa story and your memories of Christmases past.
December 7 - Christmas Television and Movies
Whether it is the movie It’s A Wonderful Life or A Charlie Brown Christmas on the telly, what is your favorite television program or movie? What are your memories of first seeing it as a child and did your family have certain traditions related to the show or movie? Are there different versions (such as The Christmas Carol) and have you found modern favorites?
Tell us about your favorite Christmas television program or movie and your memories of Christmases past.
December 8 - Christmas Shopping
For many of us, the focus of the Christmas season isn’t on “things” but on family and friends. Still, we like to give presents – large and small – to those we love. Do you shop during Christmastime or do you shop much earlier in the year to get it out of the way? Have you seen a change in your shopping habits as you’ve gotten older? Do you shop online? Do you participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday activities? What was Christmas shopping like for your family and ancestors?
Tell us about how you do Christmas shopping and your memories of Christmases past.
December 9 - Christmas Crafts
There’s a movement towards making items for Christmas gifts or even for Christmas decorating. Have you ever made something by hand related to Christmas? What was the item, how was it made and what did you do with the finished product? What about other family members – was or is there anyone who excels at hand-crafted items and giving them as gifts during Christmas?
Tell us about how you do Christmas shopping and your memories of Christmases past.
December 10 - Christmas Traditions
So many of us have family traditions related to Christmas that we learned as children and we still keep to this day. Do you know how your traditions started – is there a “backstory” to each one? What about starting new traditions – how do you start and then keep the tradition going? Are there any traditions which you disliked and that you refuse to keep?
Tell us about your family’s Christmas traditions and your memories of Christmases past.
December 11 - Christmas at Church
There are a variety of activities at Church during Christmastime, and they can vary based on your denomination or church. From the lighting of the Advent Wreath to Midnight Mass or Christmas Eve church services, for many, church is a central focus of the Christmas holiday.
If you are not a church goer, did you grow up in a family that went to church activities during Christmas – what are your memories?
Tell us about if and how you incorporate church activities into your Christmas celebrations and your memories of Christmases past.
December 12 - Fruitcake – Friend or Foe?
So what side of the tin are you on? Do you love fruitcake or despise it? Do you have a favorite recipe or favorite kind of fruitcake? If you are in the “no” column, do you politely refuse a gift of fruitcake or do you regift it or even recycle it as a door stop or food for the birds?
Many people are passionate about fruitcake and its role during Christmas time. Tell us all about your like or dislike of fruitcake and your memories of Christmases past.
December 13 - Christmas at School
A Christmas pageant, a Secret Santa gift exchange, or a concert singing Christmas carols. There are so many memories of Christmas activities at school that they could fill a book. How did your school celebrate Christmas each year? Were there activities that also involved parents or neighbors?
Tell us about school activities during Christmas and your memories of Christmases past.
December 14 - Christmas Cookies
Any other time of the year, a cookie is a cookie – even homemade ones. But during Christmas, well a cookie is a special treat. Whether it is a Snickerdoodle or a Peanut Butter Blossom or perhaps decorated Spritz cookies, we all have special memories about Christmas cookies.
Tell us about your favorite Christmas cookie (and share a recipe please!) as well as your memories of Christmases past.
December 15 - Christmas Tree Decorations
Do you have unique decorations that you use each Christmas? How did you get them or were they passed down to you from family members? Do you have certain traditions surrounding Christmas decorations such as purchasing one from every state or country you visit? Describe your favorite decorations!
Tell us about your Christmas decorations and your memories of Christmases past.
December 16 - Christmas Travel
“Over the river and through the woods” as the song goes . . . Christmas time can often mean travel home or meeting up with family at a special destination. Do you remember traveling back home for Christmas? Were there any trips that standout in your memory? What methods of travel have you used to make the trip home?
Tell us about your Christmas travel and your memories of Christmases past.
December 17 - Christmas Stories
Whether it is A Christmas Carol by Dickens or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Suess, we read or heard special stories at Christmastime. What is your favorite story and who wrote it? Do you have a tradition of reading certain stories each year at Christmas?
Tell us about your favorite Christmas stories and your memories of Christmases past.
December 18 - Christmas Baking
In addition to Christmas cookies, many families prepared special, once a year treats to share with others. Popcorn balls? Fudge? Carmel corn? What do you remember about these dishes and the activity of making them? Share recipes if you have them or just share your memories of making Christmastime foods.
Tell us about your special Christmas foods and your memories of Christmases past.
December 19 - Christmas Gifts
Christmas is a time to give gifts to family members, loved ones and friends as well as neighbors. What is your Christmas gift giving routine? Do you go all out with wrapping paper and ribbon? What types of gifts do you typically give? And what was the best gift you ever received for Christmas?
Tell us about Christmas gifts and your memories of Christmases past.
December 20 - Christmas Parties
Holiday parties, a neighborhood open house, buffets – all these take place in abundance during Christmastime. Do you throw a party each year or did your family throw parties around Christmas? Any special theme like Ugly Christmas Sweater or perhaps a gift wrapping or cookie decorating party?
Tell us about your best Christmas parties and your memories of Christmases past.
December 21 - Christmas Wishes
Some wish for specific things while others help make the wishes of others come true. Most of us probably wish for peace, prosperity and good health. Do you have a special Christmas wish that came true, or that you are still waiting to come true? Have you ever helped others fulfill a wish at Christmas?
Tell us about your own Christmas wishes and your memories of Christmases past.
December 22 - Christmas Homecoming
Families are often far apart at Christmas or have to make special efforts just to spend Christmas together. The Christmas Homecoming can take many forms, even a virtual one via Skype or a phone call. What are your memories of homecomings at Christmas? If you could have any one family member – present or past – come home for Christmas, who would it be and why?
Tell us about Christmas homecomings and your memories of Christmases past.
December 23 - The Meaning of Christmas
If someone dropped out of the sky and was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, how would you explain it to them? Can you put the meaning of Christmas into words? What does Christmas represent to you and is it different than when you grew up or from the meaning it had for your ancestors?
Tell us what Christmas means to you and your memories of Christmases past.
December 24 - Christmas Eve
How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve? Did you attend church services, perhaps a children’s service with a pageant? What about food – was there a special meal or did your family hold an open house so friends and family could stop by?
Share your memories of Christmas Eves gone by.
© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee