Christmas is a time for family. A gathering of the generations. The laughter and the memories created are special. But we all have family members who we never shared a single Christmas with.
My maternal grandfather passed away years before I was born. We never had a laugh together or tried to hold a conversation in the din of a Christmas gathering. The little that I know about him comes to me anecdotally, through the few photos that remain of him, or in the small packet of letters and papers that he once wrote, passed to me decades after he took a pen to paper. And of course, through genealogical research.
I am sharing a photograph of that maternal grandfather. It was found in a free digitized newspaper collection. In the picture he is Santa to a group of children. It’s not a role I would have expected, based on the little that I know of him. But it was one that he once filled.
On this Christmas, because of the wonders of technology, I am able to try to peek at the man behind the beard and wonder how he might have enjoyed visiting with us for Christmas, and seeing his daughter, his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and his newest great-great-grandson.
The Brooklyn Public Library hosts the Brooklyn Newsstand. Among the digitized items that are freely available there are editions of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Coverage dates run from 1841–1955. This is where I found my grandfather’s photograph. Perhaps an article or photograph is waiting there for you.
If you have time this holiday season, consider those relatives whom you never met who were special to your family members. Ask about them, hear their stories. Seek them out through research.
Enjoy this season of family, sharing, and of hope.
Merry Christmas. I hope that you find something special.