Write what should not be forgotten - Isabel Allande

Category: Holiday

Christmas at Williamsburg


Back row: Meg Kelly, Terry Marshall Kelly, Rosann Kelly, Kay Marshall McGee Front row: Maureen Kelly, Mary Ellen Reardon, Beth Kelly 1993 Williamsburg, VA

This is one of my all time favorite pictures! I came across it the other day out of nowhere and took it as a sign that it should be shared. The picture was taken in December of 1993 at Colonial Williamsburg.  My sister Eileen must have taken the picture.  Several of the ladies of our clan met in Williamsburg for a long weekend. My sweet cousin Beth works there and we had such a fun trip. Everything was decorated for the holidays and was just beautiful.
We almost weren’t able to make the trip. On the day we were to leave Buffalo was enjoying bit of a snowstorm – did anyone see the Bills game this weekend? It was kind of like that! We were the last flight out as they were closing the airport. I can still remember watching them de-ice the plane.
We had so many laughs and made great memories on this trip. Beth still works at Williamsburg and her sisters Meg and Maureen live there now too. Maybe it’s time for another trip…

Luck of the Irish?



“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy”   -William Butler Yeats

I have taken this as my life’s quote… life is good, please don’t think I am complaining. I am very grateful for all that I have.  However – we have some stories to tell and usually when things go wrong they go big.

The month of March is particularly difficult on the whole family.  Both of my parents died at the end of Feb/beginning of March, my second son was born in March (which was awesome) and then he needed life saving open heart surgery 2 days later (which was beyond terrifying).

In a good March the worst thing that happens is that expensive things break, in a bad March well…  The first 2 weeks of this March have already been rough – even by our standards!  In my little family we have had 3 ER visits – all for different people, oral surgery and a whole lot of antibiotics! My brother and my niece have also been fighting health issues at their houses. My dear friend sent me flowers the other day and the card just read “you win”.

I have mostly been researching my German side and really for the most part things went along well for them.  I’m sure they had the same day-to-day frustrations that we all deal with, but overall things seemed to generally go their way.  Then there is the Irish side of the family… their stories read like a Greek tragedy and I haven’t even dug very deep.  I only knew one person on my Irish side, everyone had died before I was born.  For many of them death didn’t come easy.  There was typhoid, TB that took several of them very young, including children.  One relative was hit by a train just days after the birth of his first child. One was badly injured and died from an explosion in her own kitchen. I am almost afraid to keep looking!!

Even with all of the bad luck March seems to bring – we still love to celebrate on St. Paddy’s day and I have always wanted to meet the Irish relatives from my dad’s side. One of my main goals when I started researching was to connect with living relatives from my 4 main branches, Pfundstein, Marshall, McGee, McVay.  The Pfundstein’s and Marshall’s have been more than generous!! The Irish side not so much… until today.  I have connected with my first McGee relative and could not be more thrilled!! I think that is pretty cool that we got in contact around St. Patrick’s day.  Maybe that is our ancestors saying – persevere, keep digging. Maybe it is just coincidence  – either way I am pretty happy!  The coolest part is that the relative I connected with today is that he is the son of someone who has fascinated me for years.  She and I share the same name, first and last name as did her mother!  Not only that her daughter, and granddaughter also share the same first name. The crazy part is that I wasn’t named for anyone!  My first name is Mary Ellen – not all that that common.

So while March is still my least favorite month – I have brand new life in my search for Irish ancestors!!

Erin go Bragh! Happy St. Patrick’s day to all my Irish and non-Irish relatives!!













Patriotic Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is my very favorite of all holidays.   An entire holiday meant for us slow down and give thanks for all we have.  All of us have a pile of problems, but spending just one day focusing on the good stuff is in order.  We are in a season of life that is just busy – crazy, chaotic busy.  Our kids range in age from High school to preschool…we are always running somewhere.  Our life is ruled by a calendar and is scheduled to the max. We never set out to be this busy – before kids we said we wouldn’t be these people.  It just sort of snuck up on us and here we are. As tough as it is (and somedays it is!) I wouldn’t change it. Our kids are thriving and it is a privilege to see them work hard and grow. It is  something I do not take lightly, because I didn’t always know that we would have the chance.

For me I am so Thankful to have a day where I don’t have to look at the calendar.  A day that we can just be together. A day to slow down and enjoy each other. We have a warm home, food to eat and each other. I could not ask for more.

So far from what I have found, both the Irish and German ancestors emigrated to the United States in the 1850-60’s.  With most coming during the Civil War.  How bad were the conditions where they came from to make them come to a country in the midst of a Civil War? I truly cannot imagine. They left everyone and everything they new to start a new life. There was no way to know how everything would turn out, but they had each other.

One of the coolest things about Thanksgiving is that it is an American holiday. So many of our holidays have roots from across the ocean.  Our ancestors brought so many traditions with them – but Thanksgiving was a chance for them to make brand new traditions, to celebrate their new lives and home. Thanksgiving was first declared a Federal in 1863 by President Lincoln. So Thanksgiving would have been a part of my ancestors lives from the time they first came here. I love the idea of generations of family gathering, much the same as today.   Maybe minus the incessant Black Friday/Cyber Monday craziness.

So today as I gather with my loved ones, I will say a silent prayer for all those who came before me and honor their memory by laughing, loving, and enjoying our family.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

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