Saturday, December 13, 2014


Grandma Ina's panorama, c. 1934 -- north of the farm yard

While Mother mentions incorporating a string of electric lights on her tree in the early 1930s, it didn’t happen for everyone. My Grandma Ina (1870-1957) never had electric lights on her tree. The Dobsons were unable to wire the farmhouse, so electricity was never brought from that last pole a half mile away until Mike and I did it in 2000 or so. But I always imagined the Christmas Eve festivities at Ina’s house were really quite romantic.

We still have the holders that Ina used to clip candles on her tree. In describing the scene through a letter to my dad, she mentions that everyone gathered in the living room on Christmas Eve and the tree was lit. By all accounts, this lighting of the tree was part of the family’s Christmas ritual. One year they lit the tree as soon as they saw Uncle June, who was late, come into view, walking over the hill to the east. I guess they hoped to impress him by the sight of the candle-lit tree inside the house. Too bad they wasted that wonderful vision on June. I’m sure he was a grump and dragging his feet. That’s why he was late.

Jack & June Dobson
Speaking of “Uncle June, the Grump,” how about the year he left the Christmas Eve party early? Someone stepped up and offered to take Aunt Bertha and the children home later with Jack's wagon and team so that they could stay and enjoy the Christmas festivities.

In 1932, Ina observed that “the moon was shining in brightly and lighting the tree and everything else in sight.” I can just imagine how beautiful that was – the moon shining into the living room from the southerly sky on a clear night. The Aladdin lamp above the dining table had undoubtedly been turned off. Perhaps all other lights had been doused as well, or maybe there was a shadowy glow from a lone kerosene lamp burning in the kitchen, casting a faint shadowy glow into the dining room.

One year (1936), my dad sent a box of greens to Grandma Ina and included candles – apparently quite a few. The family “dined in state by candlelight,” Grandma said. She saved enough candles to burn them again the next year. KW

Sunday, Dec. 13, 1896 -- on this date at Gilbert
Fair with some sunshine.
~M. L. Dickson


Hallie said...

Is that a true story about Uncle June? Was Jack also a grump or did they differ in their Christmas spirit?

Kathy said...

Mike also questioned me about this story. Apparently it's true since Grandma Ina related it in her letter to Daddy. When June pulled up to the porch, the wagon hitched with a team, they sent Shirley (my aunt) out to tell him that Henry (her boyfriend) would carry Bertha and other family members home later. My impression is that Jack played along a little better. He liked the goodies and when children were present, he also hung his stocking for Santa.

However, Jack could also be cantankerous in his view of life.