Saturday, December 6, 2014


In memory of Vance Dobson, 1987, by grandson Shann Profitt

[I started this advent project with accounts of Christmas in 1875 and then in 1896. Those entries were from my dad's family. The next entries are from my mother.

The family home in Orofino, where I grew up, was an old Craftsman and a wonderful setting for Christmas. Mother decorated inside and Daddy took care of the porch and dormer, always with originality. The community was interested. In November 1987, Daddy passed on at the age of 83. It was clear that times were changing, and about 1990, someone at the local historical society asked Mother to give a talk about the development of our family Christmas traditions. I bless that person because otherwise we wouldn’t have this written account.]

Mother writes about Christmas in the mid-1910s:
I do not remember our first Christmases but as I grew older I can remember what seems to be my first Christmas. Our tree was small, on the library table, and had few decorations. Candles were placed in little holders that clamped onto the branches. There were tinsel garlands and a few small balls. The tree was put in the house on Christmas Eve and taken out on New Year’s Day. We each received one present. My first memory is a sled my brother and I shared. There was always snow at Christmas. Grandmother usually sent a box with handmade gifts. I remember mittens and was especially delighted when I received a dust cap like my mother’s – a round piece of white material with elastic and lace around the edge.

There was always a program at the church on Christmas Eve. A big tree was decorated and the Sunday school presented a play, recitations, and songs. My special memory was when I pantomimed Silent Night while one of the ladies sang.

When I was five we moved to a farm six miles from Weippe. Christmas Eve was the time my dad went out to get the tree. It was set up and decorated after we went to bed. We knew my brother would get the pop gun he wanted the Christmas we heard someone playing with it. Santa always brought the presents and they were under the tree in the morning. That same year I got the doll I wanted. 

One Christmas we got up with the usual excitement but found no gifts under the tree. There was a note my dad read to us. Santa had had trouble with his reindeer and would have to deliver the gifts on foot. Sure enough! He came walking up through the orchard through the deep snow. Mama hurried and lit the candles on the tree and Papa met Santa at the door. He gave me my doll and an erector set to my brother and was distributing the gifts that came in the mail when Papa opened the door and shoved Santa headfirst out into the snow. His beard had caught on fire from the candles. We felt sure that wasn’t a real Santa Claus but no one would ever tell us who he was. The hired man, I suspect. Mama didn’t light candles on the tree anymore though we did put them on the branches.
Since we didn’t live near a church we went to the schoolhouse on Christmas to a school play and program. Santa gave us a little bag of candy. 

Sunday, Dec. 6, 1896 --  on this date at Gilbert:
Jack Dobson got in from Southwick. Came by way of Adams Ferry as the Holt boat was carried away in an ice gorge lately. Thawing a little.

~M. L. Dickson


Hallie said...

Do you think they laughed hard about Santa getting pushed into the snow?

Kathy said...

No, I think they were properly subdued. The fire danger was very real. Thank goodness Papa (Grandpa Portfors) was alert. Mother always told the story as though she, at least, was unaware of what was happening as Papa tossed Santa into the snow.

Mike said...

The only thing I remember about my first Xmas was the pattern of the rug. I guess I was still crawling then.