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  • Writer's pictureDebra M. Dudek

Home for the Holidays (Even if it is Only in a Photograph)

In my childhood, my grandparents farm was the center of our family celebrations. Christmas was held in the formal living room, which provided ample room for a tree, presents, and photo opportunities. I can remember receiving my miniature play kitchen and opening my first Princess Leia action figure while sitting next to the tree. As we moved house several times before I was ten, grandma and poppa's house was the steady and familiar family home of my childhood. We would later transition to celebrating Christmas at my parent's home outside of Lansing, Michigan. But to me, the holidays were the best when they were spent at the farm.

My father sold the farmhouse after my grandmother passed in 2000. I have not been back the property after it was sold. I have moved several times since then, from living abroad in the Scotland during graduate school to bouncing around Michigan during my early library career. I finally closed on my first place in Lockport in February. It feels different to own a flat as opposed to renting one, and there are definitely positives and negatives to both.

Finally being able to drill holes into a wall and hang pictures is an empowering feeling.

This is my first Christmas in my new place. I prefer Halloween to the other holidays, and have a collection suitable to decorate a large space. I wasn't prepared for the upcoming winter holidays, and decided to make some of my own decorations to save a few dollars for future renovation projects. Pinterest was my primary inspiration, as well as some of the second hand items I found on Facebook Marketplace.

Using scanned images from my grandmother's photo collection, I reprinted an image of the farm from how I remember it, a house painted green and white with the walnut trees lining the road, covered in snow. The Pinterest project I found called for a pedestal hurricane container, fake snow, miniature plastic trees, and a lighting element. I also printed a photo of a Christmas tree taken a decade before I was born. I know which corner of the room it was taken, and love the way my grandma taped holiday cards around the door frame. Using dollar store plastic ornaments and a few flameless candles and battery lights from the local big box stores, a little illumination goes a long way.

Going back to the farm for Christmas is not an option anymore. I'm sure the people who live there are nice, but it would be super awkward to knock on their door and ask to set up a tree in the formal living room. I don't have to be there to remember the people and memories which burn so brightly. I carry them around in my mind, keep the images on the smart phone in my pocket, and have found new ideas of how to incorporate them into the festive season.

When I'm cooking, I like to look back at my dining table. The farm is there, in the snow, just as I remember it. A memory brought to life in miniature, and I love it. I need to try to do one with the Christmas tree, though I may resort to a lantern dollhouse scene I also found on Pinterest.

Yes, I know this wasn't a genealogy-specific blog post. The next post will feature the new lecture programs I am debuting next year. Regardless, thanks for reading. Wherever you are, and whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you joy, warmth, and merriment.



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