Tuesday, December 17, 2013


With each passing day, the Christmas deadline grew closer – though Ina hated to think of Christmas that way. Still, the cards and letters needed to be finished and the boxes packed and sent on their way. She wanted to do some sewing before Christmas and was struggling to find the time. She had pressed Jack into writing the letters to accompany the pictures of the twins that they were sharing with their children and also extended family. Jack was equal to the task and he had done it well, though he didn’t like to write and was now beginning to complain.

Out came the wrapping supplies from the hiding place under the stairs. Myrtle’s box was next. She had long desired an atlas, and Ina had the good fortune to come by one when a family sold out and moved. And, of course, she wrapped the lady doll that would muffle her clock at night. Ina had made the doll a full old-fashioned skirt of velvet, which she lined and padded with cotton. She hoped it would fit. She also made Myrtle a pretty quilt end and a face cloth much as she likes and put in a box of popcorn that she and Jack had “sugared” last night.

Jack had sat by as Ina wrapped the packages, lending her his index finger now and again to help her tie the string. [Scotch tape was invented in the ‘30s, but I rather think Ina didn’t have any. She relied on string – and maybe sometimes she used decorative stickers.]

Myrtle was now 40, a single woman. It was hard for a woman to earn her own way and the world, to be without a family of her own. Ina wished she could come home for Christmas, but Myrtle said she couldn’t afford the trip. She had assured Ina that she would be with friends and enjoy the holiday, but in her heart, Ina wasn’t so sure. (So often the way it is with mothers.)

The box was packed, tied with string, and Jack took it and such cards as she had finished out to the mailbox.  

[We were relieved to learn today that the problem with our water was not at the pump but the storage tank. A pipe had frozen but has now been replaced, and we were instructed on how to keep it from happening again. You’d think we could better protect ourselves – and I guess we can – but it seems to be a matter of “live and learn.”] KW


Hallie said...

So glad to know that the problem has been fixed and that Santa WILL come after all. :)

Do you suppose they used glue when wrapping packages in absence of tape? Would string alone keep the paper in place?

Chris said...

My mom could wrap packages without tape and it always amazed me. It takes me a TON of tape. Guess she learned it growing up! The ribbon would keep everything together when she was done. Hmm, that helps explain why there were stickers along the tags we used to buy--to keep the paper (and of course the tags) on! The 50's weren't so far from the 30's--just twenty years.

Chuck said...

Welcome to the club. I was putting some salt pellets into the water softener, when I discovered water coming from the bottom of the water heater. That is the main source of heat for the house, so I turned the tank and water to it off. I also discovered that the hot water in the west of the house wouldn't work, so I put some heat lamps in that closet. It worked, but with the main tank shut off, that one was also shut off.

The plumber arrived the next afternoon with a new water heater, which we installed in about 3 hours. The water was turned on, and all was well, after $1,100 spent. While the heat was off, I turned on the heat pump and put some electric heaters in the basement (not heated by the heat pump).

Aren't modern conveniences nice, except when they don't work because of cold or age? Let me know how you find things on your next trip up the hill.

Kathy said...

Santa was going to come -- no doubt about that, but now you can get ready.

I doubt Ina used glue. I think those of the era knew how to wrap a package so that the paper stayed. Perhaps they tucked and rolled and then tied with the string.

Kathy said...

That's exactly what I think, Chris. The way our mothers and grandmothers lived in the '20s, '30s, '40s carried over into the '50s and we are privileged to have these memories in an age when this sort of frugality is simply not practiced. I remember an afternoon with my Grandma Portfors when we wrapped a package to send to her Aunt Naomi. I was allowed to apply the stickers. I used many.

And Chuck -- it was nice to talk to you this evening about this and that.