The Holiday Season has come and gone! All the planning by parents plus all the desires of children and others may or may not have been met. This writer wonders if Christmas traditions that were so very important as a very young farm girl surrounded by the love of many close family relatives are continued in the hustle and bustle of today’s world where instant gratification seems to be the norm.
Born to middle age parents (Mother was 45 and Father was 49), the others of this writer’s generation were years older and many cousins were married having homes of their own. Mother had three sisters who lived close with only a few miles between farms and the youngest sister who lived in Belleville 15 miles away. Christmas Eve was a must to gather at the oldest of the sisters and more importantly, oyster soup was the traditional fare and fresh, crisp celery was a treat on the menu. The soup had to be made with fresh oysters and this writer remembers her father was the designated person that made the trip to Belleville to purchase them when weather prevented the youngest sister from being part of the group. Other menu items are not remembered as much but probably there was red Jello and always great homemade pies.
After that wonderful meal and happy conversations, it was time to read the story of the birth of Baby Jesus from Grandmother’s well-worn Bible and to sing a few Christmas hymns while this child was anxious to get on with the gifts under the tree.
The gifts! Oh, the very special gifts! They were homemade during the early 30’s as nobody had extra money for store bought gifts that were not as meaningful as something someone had taken time to make with love. A needle holder made of layers of scrap material held together with beautiful embroidered stitches and a few needles on one or two of the layers was special. Another “Depression Era” gift was carefully cleaned meat wrapping paper, pressed with flat irons and cut into squares to make a booklet of recipes cut from Capper’s Weekly and added with flour and water paste: a gift for each sister! Many doilies with embroidered flowers and crocheted edgings made of sewing thread represented hours by the dim light of the kerosene lamp but carried the love these sisters had for each other.
One Christmas there was a little box that held two kittens in different poses. Made from a type of cement product, the price of 5 cents is still marked on the bottom of each. This was a special sacrifice from this writer’s Father. Sometimes there was a new doll blanket from material scraps of the homemade dresses and shirts that everybody wore! Other gifts remembered from those Aunts and Uncles were home made rag dolls and once a little wooden doll crib to hold those cherished gifts.
Each family made their way home in their Model T Fords or a cart drawn by farm horses. Christmas morning was very special in your own home where a Cedar tree had been cut from the pasture and decorated in paper chains or cut out pictures.
Of course, it was difficult to sleep anticipating that Santa would come during the night and yes, there was always his gift. Maybe it was an old doll that had a newly painted face (that is something to write about in the future) and always there was a big Red Delicious Apple and a wonderful smelling Orange with some 9-cent Chocolate Drops and peanuts in the shell.
“Windmill Memories” that never die and maybe bring a tear to your eye but always worth remembering and sharing with family and friends.