Showing posts with label Amesbury Massachusetts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amesbury Massachusetts. Show all posts

Monday, December 30, 2013

(My)Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Left: Primrose Fitzgerald and Christine  Right: Barbara Walsh and Duncan
On New Year's Eve 1952 a future genealogist was born. Duncan was about two weeks older and never let me forget it. The picture was taken about a month later, but  I think this was about as close to a "newborn" picture as you might have gotten back then. Oddly I just noticed the picture on the wall. It's a repro of a Wanda Gag lithograph chock-a-block full of cats.  The print hangs in my house to this day. My future as an ailurophile was portended.

Thankfully my mother was a packrat. I found this tidbit as well:

The day I was born just happened to be the birthday of my grandfather Harry W. Rogers, who had passed away the previous February. Another interesting coincidence I think. A New Year's Eve birthday...well any holiday birthday...is not ideal in the mind of a young child. Today I look at it as a fresh start in every way for the new year. Happy New Years!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Traditions

Chris in 1954- Amesbury, Massachusetts
Every family passes along those Christmas traditions- open the gifts on Christmas Eve, open the gifts on Christmas Day, white elephants, gift swaps, name pulls.... and it goes on and on. But Christmas food traditions are pretty interesting. In my mother's family it was always hot oyster stew on Christmas Eve. This came from her father's side of the family and I began to wonder why.

After a thorough search of the internet I had no clear answers and apparently lots of people wondered the same thing. I found the question asked and answered in a million different ways. Some said it comes from the Feast of Seven Fishes where Catholics avoided meat on certain feast days. Somehow in Anglo-Protestant America this origin became quietly obscured. Some say the Irish brought it with them substituting oysters for the traditional ling fish. Others had the origins in Germany. My mother's family was not Catholic or Irish or German. They were Yankee, Protestant and went back in New England to coastal Maine and Cape Cod. Chances are good it was a practical decision. Oysters were cheap and plentiful. Christmas, the next day, was an occasion for a big holiday meal. It would make sense to have the somewhat lighter meal of stew the night before. My family was in good company. In the December 23, 1931 edition of the Fitchburg Sentinel I found this:
Brockelmans was a popular Fitchburg grocery vendor of the time and this was a thinly disguised advertisement. 39¢ a pint is a great price for New England oysters. I paid considerably more for mine.
One thing I did find in my search is that while oyster stew was a tradition in many families all over the country, the commenters were evenly divided between the oyster lovers and the oyster haters. After years of oyster stew, the tradition quietly died among the haters and new food traditions were born. My brother is one of the haters. I however, will make my stew, thinking of my mom as I do and upholding the family tradition for just a little bit longer.