I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do of Christmases from long ago and of happy memories.
I Sang Better and Louder in My New Dress...
A story from Helen (memories from 1950s from my grandma)
Every Christmas we would get a new outfit for the Christmas program. As poor as we were, all eight of us got something new to wear, ordered from the Alden's Catalog, and paid by my parents with payments. I was excited to get a beautiful red dress that matched my best friend Kay's.
As soon as the dress was ordered, it was all of the excitement to wait for the dress to arrive. I waited and waited for my new dress, but it didn't come. Finally the day of the program was here, and my dress had still not arrived.
I went to school as usual. As soon as December came, we stopped all school subjects and worked on getting ready for our program. It was a very exciting time, but I was disappointed my beautiful dress wouldn't be here for this special day.
As I walked into the house that evening, I opened the door and there hanging on the window was my beautiful red dress! It had come just in time. When I went to the program that night I sang so much louder and so much better because of my new dress."
A Blue Christmas
A story from Grace (memories from 1950s from my grandma)
"On December 18th, my sister Mary's birthday, my mother would put up our Christmas tree, and only she would decorate it. It always had blue lights, and I have some of her old glass balls. Then came the garland, and last, an icicle from the tip of each stem, carefully placed so they hung straight down. She was very particular about her tree.
My siblings and I often played "Guess what I am?" sitting around the Christmas tree because it had so many neat balls and decorations. Remember there was no TV in those days- or only the richer people had them first.
On Christmas Eve we would go to church. Going to a parochial school, we had to memorize the Christmas hymns AND the Christmas story from the Bible. I still remember the words. Then we would hurry home and while we were gone, Santa had come. It was so very exciting. We probably only received one gift, but each Christmas was special and I felt blessed.
A story from Mary Lou (memories from 1940s-1950s)
"I think getting up Christmas morning was my favorite memory. Getting up and getting our gift. They were never wrapped and we always knew what it was. Then there was Ma making breakfast...What a great mother she was. With hardly any money, she made it all so wonderful."
A Simple Christmas in the Log Cabin
A story from Hildegard Kuse (memories from 1930s)
"I learned to walk Christmas Eve to get to the Christmas tree. Papa would surprise us with the tree on Christmas Eve and it would be decorated with cookies of different shapes, and ours had camels, wood carvings, and we had 3 store bought balls to hang upon the tree, and candles. Kids in those days would sneak behind the back of the tree and eat the cookies, and of course the rest would be consumed later as nothing went to waste in those days. Our tree wasn't very big, for we had just a 3 room log house.
Each Christmas Eve, we would go to church. The service was in English, but songs were still sung in German. In those days candles were used to light the tree, which of course was very dangerous, so there was always someone standing with a mop and a wet rag to extinguish the candles.
I had my first piece in the Christmas program when I was three years old. I didn't want to speak, and when I got up there I said, "Papa should come and get me." Of course this was embarrassing to my young parents and I'm sure the church erupted in laughter which only made it worse.
After the program we would get a candy bag from under the tree. Inside was a popcorn ball, an apple, brazil nuts, hard candy, and an orange. This was only time each year you would get an orange. The Sunday School teachers pitched in their own money to fill the bags as this was during the Depression and no one had extra money.
After church, we would walk back home and open presents. Our gifts were almost always homemade, but we would buy some things like hairpins for Grandma. My dad made a pairing knife for my mom, and my mom made a scarf for Grandpa. We would look through the Sears catalog before Christmas, but we knew we wouldn't be able to afford anything from there.
When I was 8 years old, my dad made me a doll named Honeysuckle. He found a discarded doll, used the head, and carved a wooden body with jointed legs and arms. My mom made a dress and panties to go along with her. I still have that doll today.
My Aunt Ella was an unmarried maiden who worked for a department store in Washington. On her way to New York, she'd stop to visit her family in Wisconsin. She would always send us a store bought gift, and one snowstormy day in January when I was in third grade, a box arrived for me. Inside the box was many little boxes, all wrapped individually. I received a ring with a blue birthstone, a set of crayons, a windmill with candy, and a toy watch with hands that turned, and on the bottom was a Heidi book. That was the greatest of all because Dad would read it to us.
One thing that remains throughout the hands of time: Christmas is a time of warmth and love, of the comfort of family, the birth of our Savior, and the memories that last, last forever.
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