I’ve loved Christmas seals since fourth grade, and my collection now covers nearly every year since the program began in 1907. Inspired by a fundraising campaign in Denmark, Emily Perkins Bissell designed holiday seals to sell for one penny each at post offices. The funds would fight tuberculosis, then America’s leading cause of death. Today, the American Lung Association also funds lung cancer and asthma research, still largely thanks to Christmas Seals.
A Little Christmas
One of my favorite descriptions of Santa Claus is in the iconic book Little House on the Prairie. After crossing a swollen creek to deliver gifts from Santa, the fictional Mr. Edwards tells Mary and Laura Ingalls: “He swung up on his fine bay horse. Santa Claus rode well, for a man of his weight and build. And he tucked his long, white whiskers under his bandana.” Laura Ingalls Wilder began writing the Little House books on her beloved Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Mo. My visit there several years ago was a bucket-list item for this lifelong fan.
I’m always looking for ways to give the gift of family history. The Inkwork app for iOS made it easy to create a family coloring book for my grandkids. I saved old photos to Dropbox (any cloud storage app is fine). Simple images work better than detailed ones. On my phone, I opened Inkwork and imported an image. You can select from a variety of styles (I used Comic) to turn photos into line drawings. I saved the drawings back to Dropbox, then printed and bound them.
There’s a reason our ancestors sang, about figgy pudding, “We won’t go until we get some!” Whip up a batch with help from the Plymouth Union Cook Book of 1894: “One pound of figs cut fine, imported ones are best but dried domestic ones will answer, one and a half pounds of bread crumbs, one-half pound chopped suet [you could use shortening], twelve ounces moist sugar [brown sugar], a little nutmeg [1 tsp.], two eggs, one teacup of milk. Mix all together and steam four hours.” See pudding prep in action.
Getting the Records
The Dec. 7, 1941, raid on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor resulted in a staggering loss of nearly 3,000 American lives. Thirty-two years later, the military service records of many who served that day and throughout the war were lost in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. I learned from Theresa Fitzgerald, the center’s chief of archival operations, of the hundreds of auxiliary files that can help you fill in the blanks.
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