Random Sampler

Family History—Holiday Style

We have preserved family holiday traditions and history in our family holiday book. It is divided into the following sections:

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    Family stories. This includes stories dating back as far as the 1800s. We found them in journals, family histories, and interviews with our grandparents. We also added favorite short stories such as “The Night before Christmas” and “A Christmas Carol,” and our own childhood memories of special Christmas experiences.

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    Family traditions. Traditions unique to our family are recorded here, such as dropping off a package from “Santa” to a needy family, reading the Christmas story late at night on Christmas Eve, and giving each child one new tree ornament every year.

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    Favorite recipes. Aunt Margaret’s poppy seed cake, a recipe handed down from a German grandmother; sugar cookies for the children to decorate; and Grandma Ruby’s fudge are holiday favorites we included. We also dug through our grandmothers’ recipe boxes to find and recreate recipes our ancestors made.

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    Craft ideas. Everyone has gathered patterns for teddy bears, centerpieces, gifts, and ornaments special to our family. The ideas here range from complicated knitting patterns to instructions for making paper chains.

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    Scrapbook. This section includes printed programs from the time my father narrated the Christmas story in church, programs from plays and ballet recitals, special Christmas cards, photographs, and other reminders of events we have attended during the past holiday seasons.

Our holiday book keeps traditions alive and assures that no treasured recipes, ideas, or memorabilia are lost. The children look forward to perusing its pages each year, and the older relatives love adding their memories to it. Our holiday book is a priceless family history; we hope it will inspire future generations to carry on the traditions we’ve recorded.Sherri Ann Haab, Provo, Utah

The Grandma Tapes

“Hello, kids. This is Grandma Beth. I wish I could be there in person to tuck you in. But since I can’t, let me read you a bedtime story that was one of Uncle Doug’s favorites when he was little.”

So begins another installment of the “Grandma Tapes”—tape recordings my mother, Beth Whitaker Evans, sends to her twenty-five grandchildren and seventeen stepgrandchildren, most of whom live far away from her.

Mother has several different recordings that she distributes according to age and interests. A favorite for all of us is a collection of stories that Mother reads from an old family volume. The teen and preteen grandchildren have been inspired by her tape entitled “Kids Who Made a Difference.” In this, Mother tells several stories of teens who achieved remarkable results when they helped others. She has since built upon this idea by gathering stories of various family members who have had a positive influence on others.

In each tape, Mother intersperses stories with personal comments such as “Now, wasn’t that great?” She avoids sounding “canned” by just being herself; in one tape she clears her throat and asks to be excused while she gets a drink of water. Some of the tapes are accompanied by relaxing classical music.

Regardless of the length of time since they have last visited their grandmother, the children in our family feel an immediate kinship and closeness as they talk with her about the stories. The tapes have provided a wonderful vehicle for sharing her testimony and values with her posterity. And they have proved invaluable to us as parents in helping each child go to bed having ended the day on a positive note.Anne W. Law, Mesa, Arizona

Baby Stories

I want to remember all the “firsts” in my babies’ lives—times when they get their first baby teeth, take their first steps, and say their first words. But I want a record of other important events, too. So I keep a journal of their activities, just as they would for themselves if they could.

Each month I write a page with the accomplishments my baby has made, such as new actions and funny sayings. On the opposite page of the journal, I paste pictures of the baby and magazine articles that remind me of things he does.

When my sons want to curl up in my lap and read a book, I have one I know they will enjoy. This little journal has became a favorite for each one.Teri Evans, Bountiful, Utah

Getting the Last Word

“And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven ______.”

I left the last word off the last verse as I finished my turn reading during our family scripture time. Then I asked my wife and sons to fill in the blank. We tried this again on the next verse, then the next and the next. We found that we could supply the last word of many verses—and we also discovered that we were listening more closely as each person read.

We now enjoy this game regularly as we study. In addition, I add variety at the beginning of scripture time by asking the boys to tell me which book we are reading, then which chapter.Blaine R. Holdaway, Pleasant Grove, Utah

Making Homemade Look Store-Bought

When my oldest daughter started junior high school, she and I realized that she no longer wanted to wear “homemade” clothes. I enjoy sewing and had always saved money by sewing for my daughters. I despaired when I thought of how much it would cost to buy all her clothes ready-made.

But since then, I have found that there are still items I can sew successfully at home—clothes that both of my teenage daughters enjoy wearing and that cost me less to make than to buy. As I choose which items I will sew, here are some things I consider:

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    Type of garment. Go to a department store or mall with your daughter and have her show you outfits she admires. Then decide if you can copy them at home. Have her try on the clothes so you both can see if the styles look good on her. I have had good luck copying modular knits, shorts, blouses, skirts, and Sunday dresses.

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    Patterns. Look for those that closely imitate what you saw in the store. Some patterns are designed by the same people who create ready-to-wear styles. Look for details like topstitching and special pocket treatments that give clothing a store-bought look. But as you plan, be careful to consider the cost of notions. A dress dripping with lace or other trims might be less expensive to buy than to make.

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    Fabric. My daughters know which prints and colors are most in style, so I have them carry each bolt of material they like to a mirror so they can see how it will look on them. Fabric content is also important. If 100 percent cotton is all the rage, then a polyester-cotton blend won’t do, because it won’t drape the same way.

    Look for sales. I’ve found the fabric for some of the most beautiful dresses I’ve made on the dollar-a-yard table.

    When you buy knit material or rayon, always allow for shrinkage and always wash the material, following fabric care instructions, before you cut out the garment.

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    Fit. Ready-made clothing fits nicely because you can try it on before you buy it. That’s why fit is so important on clothing you make at home. Fit the pattern on your daughter before you cut out the fabric and have her try on the garment frequently as you sew. Remember also that shoulder pads are an important part of the fit of many blouses and dresses today.

Careful attention to details like these can produce the ultimate compliment for your daughter—“Where did you get that? I want one just like it!”—without destroying the family budget.Susan J. Denney, Denton, Texas

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brent Christison

[photos] Photography by Phil Shurtleff