Category Archives: Advent Calendar

Sermon – Advent 1966

The original stained glass window before the Black Madonna.
The original stained glass window before the Black Madonna mural was added in 1967.  It was a picture of the Pilgrims landing in America. Brewster Pilgrim Congregational Church owned the building before they sold it to us.  At one point, as I remember, they wanted to take the window with them but did not want to pay to remove and replace it.  It is still under the present mural of the Black Madonna.

The Advent sermon below was preached on the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 1966 by my father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr., who was later known as Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy


I was reminded by my facebook history that on December 14 of last year, I participated in Blog Caroling. This year there is no official Blog Caroling being organized by footnoteMAVEN. In honor of Blog Caroling past, I offer The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy played on a glass harp.

Since posting this, I found that Blog Caroling is taking place this year!  Those participating are leaving their link on Friends of footnoteMAVEN Facebook Group located here.  In order to post you have to join the group, but everybody who is on facebook can follow the links.

Olga Preobrazhenskaya as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Nikolai Legat as Prince Coqueluche in the Grand pas de deux in the original production of The Nutcracker. Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, c. 1900
Olga Preobrazhenskaya as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Nikolai Legat as Prince Coqueluche in the Grand pas de deux in the original production of The Nutcracker. Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, c. 1900 (public Domain photograph)

Santa On The IRT


I wrote this on February 8, 1999

It all happened last Christmas Eve. I’d had a long, hard day working at the restaurant and I just wanted to get home and soak my tired dogs. That’s what my father always said when he came home from work. “Whew! My dogs are killin’ me!” he’d say. Then he’d take off his shoes, plop down in his favorite chair and fall asleep reading the paper until dinner time.

But I didn’t start this to tell you about my feet. I wrote this to tell you about meeting Santa on the subway. First I thought it was just some joker on his way to a Xmas party. I looked the other way when he came over and started looking at the IRT map. I didn’t want to get into a big conversation about nothing, but some guy hollers out “Hey, Santa, hope you don’t lose your way when you’re looking for my house.” Course that got a big laugh. Until he turned around and said “Fellows, this is no laughing matter. I’ve lost my map of NYC. The one that marks the houses I’ve got to go to and who’s been naughty and nice.   You could have heard a pin drop in there.

(This first appeared on my other blog Ruff Draft)

Christmas Day 1944-part 2

It is now 12:15 AM… we just got home… (and I have to get up at 7!!) … having been interrupted in our “spending Christmas quietly at home.” A boy named Lee and his girl, Naomi, who are studying Cinema at school dropped by for a Merry Christmas. (They’re Jewish). They brought me a Christmas present … two books on Cinema published by the Museum of Modern Art… very nice of them… and as usual I had no presents to return … being somewhat flabbergasted by the whole thing …anyway …we bulled for some little time …and then went to the Faun (the 4 of us) again for dinner …and had a very nice dinner… and then (still the 4 of us) went downtown to a little show that has foreign films and saw a Russian Film “The Rainbow”.  It was very good… the dirty nastys killed and shot and poked out eyes until everyone was throwing up all over the place or crying (Naomi and Doris) and then the Russians came skiing down the mountain and gave the dirty nastys a taste of their own medicine while we all cheered (Me and Lee… Doris was still crying…and you can’t cheer and cry very well at the same time… she tried but ’twasn’t much of an artistic success.  So we came home. (Just thought Barbara would like to know what happened to her Christmas present… it was quite nice, however, kept my little spouse from having time to get homesick as she is very wont to do what with Christmas trees about and that there… and her wonderin’ every ten minutes what you-all are doin’ at that particular minute.)

Speaking of Christmas presents Mr. Moore, the head of the Cinema department gave me a Christmas present the last day of school.  The best book published about cinema is now out of print (collectors item and that) well, I’ve been a tryin’ to find one in a used book-store…but Moore had already bought up every copy on the West Coast…so I couldn’t find any.  Well, anyhoo…he gave me one of his copies for Christmas!  Surprised me…don’t know yet whether I thanked him or not or just looked stupid (O.K. Louis, “as usual”) ‘Twas nice of him, anyhow…especially with folks all trying’ to buy the few copies he has left after stocking up the Library.

Before I was interrupted I was telling about the Grahams present…Doris got some slips or something like that etc. etc….and we both got a large box of cup-cakes we are in the process of devouring with the Cherry Jam Mrs. Graham sent us a bit earlier.  Speaking of food…Did you-all can any chicken this year…WELL!!! (Can’t you take a hint!) (‘Splain it to ‘em Pee-Wee.  Pee-Wee ain’t home, she’s out amongst em’…well, you ‘splain it Gladys…She ain’t home either…O.K.)  Find attached sugar stamp which we let the OPA slip by us… Thought maybe you-all could still find some use for it… (Know what I mean.) Mrs. Graham’s got (or had)  5 pounds for you-all.

Really ain’t no need for no nother sheet of this!

To be continued.

You can read a review of the movie Raduga/The Rainbow from the October 1944  New York Times by clicking HERE.

4 Responses to Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Christmas Day 1944 part 2

  1. gem! says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:52 am

    You do have the wealth of info on your family. And the way you present!

    Your Father was quite the Guy back in the day, as in my time, too.

    the book, if you don’t do it; who will?!

  2. Ron Rink says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Oh, I’m old enough to remember the ration stamps. Fun to read the humor in the writing too.

    Peace …

  3. 2ndsister says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:28 am

    another great post! i love the comments about his “little wife” and the flavor of their lives before their daughters arrived!

  4. December 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    oh my, i love your new look and your new neighborhood. i’m thinking of moving my blog, too, and was wondering if you could give me some pointers on how to do it so seamlessly as you have!


Christmas Day – 1944

My parents in 1943.

Last year I shared a letter my mother wrote home to Detroit on December 17, 1944.  This year I am going to share a long Christmas letter my father wrote home on Christmas day of the same year.  Because it is three pages long I am going to break it up into three posts.   This is the first.

1944 was my parents 2nd Christmas together. My father, Albert, had taken a year off from the ministry to take classes in film making at UCLA.  He planned to use it in his church work.  My mother, Doris, was working as a social worker.  The “Junior Doctor” mentioned in the letter was his brother, Louis, who had recently joined their father as a doctor at Cleage Clinic on the west side of Detroit. Barbara is his sister and the Graham’s are my mother’s parents.


It’s Christmas afternoon…that’s what folks out here tell us…but it’s really June..the sun is shining and its warm and folks are out without their coats trying to play like it’s Christmas (full of Christmas cheer, howsoever…the liquid variety)

Their apartment - 2130 S. Hobart Blvd. #4. Window upstairs between trees.
Their apartment – 2130 S. Hobart Blvd. #4. Window upstairs between trees.

We ate supper at the Restaurant last night…”The Faun”, everything was quite festive…with Christmas carols… and folks being “elite”… Doris wanted to telephone you-all COLLECT to say Merry Christmas … Suggested that we put through a person to person call to the Junior Doctor (knowing that he would refuse to accept a collect call … and thus you-all would guess that we said Merry Christmas without anybody payin’ anything  Smart little wife I got ain’t it.  But we didn’t…the war effort ‘n’ that, you know.  On the way home we saw a woman stealing a Christmas tree from a stand which had closed thinking that all the trees had been sold that anybody wanted (I guess).  She was back in the dark picking over the trees big as life … getting a good one with a solid stand … she looked sort of scared but determined … Last we saw of her she was truckin’ on down the street with the biggest and best one on the lot under her arm. 

We got up LATE … about twelve or so… and ate like hogs… DORIS is now engaged in “repairing” one of our “electric plates”… in the middle of the floor barefooted…she and it ((the electric plate) are now sitting in the middle of the front room floor… she has the plate hooked in to prove that it works… she works just like Louis… mess, mess, mess everywhere.  She can start on the Radio now… The Christmas carols seem to have burned it out… this morning it refused to play… just smoked when we turned it on … she says a condenser… and only by the hardest can I disuade her from “fixing” it too. (She is now lecturing on how fortunate I am to have a wife who is both smart and beautiful and can fix things about the house.)

We received the presents ($10 from Barbara, $10 from Daddy & Mama, and $50 from Louis) THANKS! Sorry we couldn’t give you-all anything but love.  We received a package from the Grahams… shirt tie, hankerchiefs, and CIGARETTES for me…


To be continued.

6 Responses to Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Christmas Day 1944

  1. gem! says:
    December 18, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Keep it coming!

    Looks great, “Keep on… keeping on…!”


  2. zanncarter says:
    December 19, 2011 at 12:24 am

    I don’t know why, but your father saying that they “ate like hogs’ just made me laugh…eating like a hog sounds like eating more than if you eat like a pig.
    Congratulations on the move. I’m hanging in with Blogger until I can learn to use the other, self-hosted WordPress. Might be a loooong time. I’ve got my blog backed up (I think) and that will have to do for my sense of security now.
    It’s snowing on your blog here – is that a feature you can turn on and off?

    • kristin says:
      December 19, 2011 at 8:36 am

      Zann, I turned it on until Jan. 3. Probably will be all the snow I see until later in the winter. I plan on going the self-hosted route too. In fact I tried one out but decided to move here for now. It wasn’t much different then this WordPress is to work with.

  3. Ron Rink says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Looks great, Kristin. I do truly love keeping up with your family history. You are doing such an amazing job with documenting all this. It will be treasured by your descendants for many years to come. What a great gift.

    I have all my blogs on self-hosted WordPress. With some of the latest versions, it has become a dream to use.

    Peace …

    • kristin says:
      December 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

      I am not self-hosting yet but that is the plan. I will have to ask you some questions via email.

  4. 2ndsister says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

    i loved this one. can’t wait for the next two installments. i’m so glad you’re doing this. it’s like reading about characters in a novel!

Surprise Birthday Party – Dec. 29, 1991

ruff draft dec birthday
By Tulani Williams
On December 29, 1990, Jim Williams and Warren Evans were in for a surprise!  Nikki Evans (Warren’s daughter) and I (Tulani Williams, Jim’s Daughter) planned, with the help of our cousin Jann Shreve and her mother Jan, (Warren’s sister) a surprise birthday party.  We got permission to have it at Hugh and Louis’ house.  They are our great uncles.  Then we began to get ready for the party. First we went into town to buy a few last minute things.  On our way in we passed Warren on his way home. He saw us and stopped to ask where we were going.

 Jan who was driving, answered, “We’re on our way to the store to get some eggs and hamburger buns.”

Warren then said, “Well, could you get me some ‘Stay alive food’.  Some hamburger, fries or chips….you know?” He handed Jan some money and we were on our way.
Now we had to go out of our way to get Warrens “stay alive food”.  At Ben Franklin’s (a dime store), we got a few presents and Jann looked at the cards and picked out one that said, “I was going to get you an expensive watch for your birthday:…Then you open it and it said “But at your age time doesn’t matter”. She showed it to her mother and they bought it.

After going to the grocery store for Warren, we headed home.  Nikki, Jann and I started mixing up the cake.  When we put the cake into the oven Jann, Nikki and I sat down with Kriss (Jan’s brother) and James (my brother) and started playing Seaga.  We hadn’t got very far when the cake was done and we started the icing.  After we iced the cake, we were going to get Jan to drive us over to Louis’.  I went over to tell my mother (Kristin) and she suggested that we put the cake into a box and drag it over on the sled since the roads were iced over.  So we decided to pull it over on the sled. When we got to Hugh and Louis’ we started decorating the house with balloons, and crepe paper.  We even had a sign that said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JIM AND WARREN!” that James and Kriss had printed up on the computer.  When we finished decorating, people started to arrive.  We were all brainstorming on how to get Warren to come over.  Louis said that we should tell him that we were having a surprise party for Jim and then…the fire siren went off.  Jim is a volunteer fireman so that meant he had to go to the fire.  But lucky for us it was a false alarm.  Jim arrived a few moments later with Kristin, who knew about the party and brought him over.  We all hid and had the lights out and yelled “SURPRISE!” when he came in.

Gladys called Warren and told him that the washing machine was clogged up.  When Warren finally got there we were in a dimly lit house.  He came in talking about “With all these strong backs why… ” but then we yelled “SURPRISE!” and we sat down to have cake.
See Happy Birthday to All! and Happy Birthday Poppy! for last years birthday stories

Fruitcake – 2011

I have been making fruitcake using the recipe in my mother’s “Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book” for decades. I like my homemade fruitcake but can’t say the same for the blah stuff from the grocery store. This year’s fruitcakes are still soaking up the brandy.  I will finish making them as soon as I get over this horrible cough I’ve come down with.  To see last year’s photo of me up to my elbows in candied fruit and nuts, go to Yay For Fruitcake!

Orange and lemon peels after being candied.
Orange and lemon peels after being candied.

Fruit and nuts aging with brandy.
Fruit and nuts aging with brandy.

Celebrating Kwanzaa

"Kwanzaa Table"The Kwanzaa Table


When I was elementary school age our neighborhood was majority Jewish for several years.  We never celebrated the Jewish holidays but we learned about them.  I remember singing the dreidel song in school and learning about the menorah.

We have celebrated Kwanzaa in various ways over the years.  Once again I bring you a reprint from Ruff Draft 1991.  We didn’t celebrate it when I was growing up since it didn’t begin until the late 1960’s.  Our children grew up celebrating either at home or in community celebrations.  At one point we didn’t celebrate Christmas, only Kwanzaa but after the kids started school we gradually added Christmas back into the celebrations.


By Ayanna Williams

Kwanzaa is an African American holiday started in the U.S.A. in the 1960s.

This year on the last day of Kwanzaa, which was New Years Day, we had a big to-do and invited Henry over.  We dressed up.  Tulani and I in sarongs.  That is material draped around your body and hung over your shoulder.  James and Cabral wore baggy pants and African print shirts.  Jilo and Ife, who were home on winter break, wore long skirts.  All the girls but Jilo, wore geles (head wraps).  Jilo didn’t want to cover her dreadlocks.

When Henry got there we were downstairs in our regular clothes so we ran upstairs and after much losing of skirts and falling off of wraps, we finally went down.  As we went Tulani played the drum, James used the shakare, Cabral strummed the ukelele and I had to use two blocks.  We chanted “Kwanzaa, First Fruits!” as we came. We giggled a little as we went through the kitchen.  Black eye peas, sweet potatoes and rice were simmering on the stove for us to eat directly after the ritual.  When we got to the living room, all the lights were off except one.  By that light we, in turn, read the seven principles in Swahili and their meanings in English.  The introduction was read by Daddy.  Nia/Purpose was read by Henry. Umoja/Unity was read by Tulani.  Kujichagulia/Self determination was read by Ayanna, Ujima/Collective Work and Responsibility by James.  Ujamaa/Cooperative economics by Ife, Kuumba/Creativity by Mommy for Cabral and Imani/Faith by Jilo.

Then we read the meanings explained in plain English that Jilo had written.  After we read the principles and lit all seven candles, Jilo read a story she had written about Kwanzaa with all of the principles included.  We then ushered everybody into the dining room while chanting the principles and their meanings.  Well, that was the plan, but nobody but us kids knew so the adults just sat there and watched us.  So we finally just got up and told them to come to the table.

After dinner Henry told tales about when he was a kid and about his uncles and cousins.  Some how the conversation went from reminiscing to the state of the world today. He and Jilo had quite a discussion that lasted for hours.  At the end Henry went home and we all went to bed.