Monday, December 1, 2014


"We don't like Christmas," a young Hallie quipped; "we just like to get ready for Christmas." It was an astute observation from a teen-ager and a wake-up call for me. I began to make changes in the way I managed our celebration of Christmas. 

And I could see that down through the years I had been trained to love getting ready for Christmas while the main event fell short of expectations. So now I just enjoy getting ready for Christmas, enjoy an understated Christmas Day, and start getting ready for Christmas again on December 26.

 Today begins my annual Christmas advent project on this blog, which by now has become a kind of “Treasury of the Familiar,” if you will, because my family literary sources are limited. However, I hope you'll forgive me the repeats because that's what Christmas is all about -- tradition.

So, without further ado, here's an excerpt from a letter written by my great-aunt, Ida Jane Patchen, in 1922, in which she reminisces about 
Christmas, 1875:

"No, I think I’ve never had a Christmas that someone didn’t remember me. Even if 'twas only a small gift, the love that prompted it was big.

Charlie Wiley and daughter Florence
"I’ll never forget one Christmas in old Iowa when all our little Ma had for her expectant brood was a 10-cent package of candy divided between and given out wrapped up in newspaper. We sat on Pa’s tool chest like so many hungry crows and I tried not to see “the hurt” in Ma’s face and to keep out of my own all I could for her sake, too. I think I was 11 years old. But do as we could it was not Christmas, but God put it into the heart of Charley Wiley to “save the day” by slipping in on us with a big breezy “Merry Christmas” and giving me that wonderful candy apple and something in candy of smaller fruit to you girls, too. My, didn’t our spirits come up, though and the happy relieved look on Ma’s face alone would have repaid him did he only know the whole circumstance. (Silly, ain’t I, but I’m crying.)"


Chris said...

This letter makes me tear up every time. We are so blessed.

Kathy said...

To me it's an indication of how much we love to "make Christmas," especially for the children. When times are hard, adults understand, but we don't like to disappoint the children.

I also love the simplicity of the gifts -- candied fruit.

Hallie said...

Agreed. It's like a scene from a movie.