Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Past

The years go by, pages of the calendar are torn off, holidays come and go and our lives progress minute by minute to what we call the future.  As a genealogist, I leap backward into the past, sometimes forgetting the day and time as well as the future.  With that leap comes memories of Christmas past.  The ghost of Christmas Past has never visited me, but in my mind I travel back in time.

One of my fond memories is of the enormous Christmas tree that my family decorated when I was five years old.  It was larger than life and seemed to fill the entire room.  As I grew older the trees grew smaller and shorter.  It wasn't a larger than life tree, I was just a small girl looking up at a large, tall tree.  But what a precious memory that has been.  I can still see the angel on the top and have never seen one like her.

As I decorate my Christmas tree of 2011, memories are conjured up about decorating trees in years past.  There was the thrill of seeing the lights on the tree and hoping that none would burn out.  The ornaments that students gave me still remain precious to me.  There are fragile ornaments that my children made in school.  Rounded out with home made ornaments, they make my tree festive and special.  If only I could find the angel that topped the tree over sixty years ago.

Terry .. Christmas at age 2
On my bookcase I have a collection of Santas.  There is one made of paper that my husband gave me years ago.  Another is an old ceramic Santa.  Then there is the large Santa in regal splendor.   It was a gift I gave to my Mother when she lived in assisted living.  She wanted her room decorated immediately after Thanksgiving.  The next day was not too soon.  I can still see her gently touching the garment of her Santa.  Little did I know that she would pass away less than two weeks later.

Christmas is for all ages.  I love the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas.  It is seeing awe in the eyes of children which we can than return in love through our eyes.  One of my favorite Christmas photographs is of my nephew, Terry.  He was two years ago.  Terry passed from us too soon at the age of 46.

Perhaps conjuring up memories brings moments of sadness, but we can always find love through sadness.  Merry Christmas to all of you ... and to all of you best memories.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pinning History to the World

Partnered with Google, Historypin brings over 71,000 photos, videos, audio clips and stories to your computer in ways you have never imagined.  You can explore their collections and create your own collection of photographs linked to history.  It's fun, easy and addictive.  On the home page a video will take you through the highlights of Historypin in 90 seconds.  Be sure you watch it!

Click on "Explore the Map."  This brings up a Google map of the British Isles and continental Europe.  The fun is not limited to that part of the world.  Query boxes are located at the top of the map page.  You can enter search terms, such as a location or topic or combination of the two.  Next to that is a time frame that allows you to select the era of interest, or explore all of the time periods.  Let the whirling fun begin as you travel to that location in the world!

You can zoom in and out, change time periods and best of all, begin clicking on the photos that are pinned to the map.  A small photo will pop up along with information.  If you click on the pen and paper, a story will appears, sometimes with audio.  Zoom in on the map or in satellite view for a closer look around.

Historypin does even more.  In the description box of the photo, look for the double arrow.  Click on that and suddenly you are taken to a street view.  In the background is the street as it appears today with the old photograph superimposed over it.  To go back to the map and resume searching, look for the double arrow in the right hand portion of the screen.

Between GoogleEarth and Historypin, I may come up only for air.  Somebody order pizza delivery.  I'm glued to my computer!