Ancestor Holidays
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“Ancestor Holidays,” Ensign, Mar. 1987, 69

Ancestor Holidays

Our children love holidays. This year, when the approach of St. Patrick’s Day coincided with some genealogy I was doing, I realized that we had one—and only one—Irish ancestor. So I decided to perk up St. Patrick’s Day by celebrating “Andrew Hanner Day,” in honor of our Irish ancestor. I wrote it on the big calendar on the front of the refrigerator, and the preparation and anticipation began!

I made a large bulletin board on which I tacked a map of Ireland, family group sheets filled out with green ink on our ancestor’s family, and pictures of Andrew Hanner’s wife and children on green shamrocks with green ribbon leading to their name on the family group sheets. My daughter made a large placard on which she wrote, “Welcome to Andrew Hanner Day!” She brought me a button on which was illustrated a leprechaun up to his knees in dirt with the saying “My roots are green.” I wore it all day on my green shirt.

I gathered up all the mementos I had that once belonged to Andrew Hanner’s daughter and my great-grandmother, Alice Hanner Bishop—a ring, a cookie press, her Bible and hymnbook, letters she had written, birthday cards and valentines she had received and tucked into her Bible where I found them years later, her garden gloves, dishes, and her address book, which has been such a boon in doing her genealogy. Clearing off one shelf in the china closet in the dining room, I made a display of these items with little cards telling something about the object.

We played records of Irish music all day, and for dinner we had Irish stew, Irish soda bread, and Leprechaun Lime Pie. The children found family group sheets rolled up and tied with green ribbon by their plates—for them to put in their Books of Remembrance. I had also prepared a list of questions to be answered from the family group sheets, such as “How many daughters did Andrew Hanner have?” “How many sons?” “Where was he born?” “How old was he when he died?” “Which child of his is our ancestor?”

As each child answered the questions, he or she received a present wrapped in white paper with green ribbons. Inside were copies of all the Hanner pictures for his or her Book of Remembrance.

When the day was over, we had enjoyed a lot of fun and had learned a lot about Ireland and our Irish grandfather, Andrew Hanner. We enjoyed the celebration so much that we have planned other “ancestor holidays.” On July 4 we will honor a Revolutionary War soldier, Captain John Bishop. On Thanksgiving, we will celebrate “Pick-Your-Favorite-Pilgrim-Ancestor Day.” And we have discovered that my husband was born on the one-hundredth anniversary of his great-grandfather’s birth, so in conjunction with his birthday, we will also celebrate George Albert Goodrich Day. We can’t wait!—Suzanne Goodrich, Orem, Utah