Saturday, November 28, 2015


(A story of Sadie, American Farm Girl, wherein Ina makes a rag doll)

An advent calendar, c. 1960
In my childhood (the ‘50s and ‘60s), a syndicated serialized story about Santa Claus appeared in our daily newspaper during the month of December. It was a countdown to Christmas, the installments appearing weekdays from December 1 until just before Christmas. I remember Mother reading them to me, and I also remember my older sister Nina reading episodes to her boyfriend in her best “little girl” voice. Mother even clipped the series from the paper and pinned them together. Eventually I tossed them. (What was I thinking!)

After years of searching the internet for information about these “countdown to Christmas” serials, this year I evidently put together the right combination of words and came up with information. I now know that the advent series were written by journalist Lucrece Beale. The story presented a problem that Santa had to solve in order to meet the Christmas deadline. If you’re interested, you can read the history of these delightful series here.

Aunt Ethel with her daughter Shirley Jean
This year I’m celebrating December with a “serialized” story of my own -- fictionalized family history based on Depression-era life at the old family homestead located at the now-defunct community of Gilbert, Idaho. My story has Grandma Ina anticipating the visit of her daughter Ethel’s family and looking forward to sharing the holiday with granddaughter Sadie. I try to capture something of an old-fashioned cozy Christmas in a time and place where life was simpler but not without problems.

Happily, the calendar of 1931 coincides with that of 2015, so 1931 it is. Though based on events that my grandmother related in letters to her son Vance (my father), the story is my own. Ethel and her husband Ernest were real people, and they had one child, Shirley Jean. However, the little girl in my story is a fictional Sadie. KW


Hallie said...

Looking forward to it!

Chris said...

Oh, you've taken me back with the mention of the Christmas stories in the LMT. I loved them, too. And yes, what were you thinking when you threw them away?!? :-) But truly, I know exactly why you did--there's only so much one can keep. Still, it would be fun to read them again. Thanks for the memories!

Kathy said...

Yes -- and the paper had deteriorated.

I shared only one link in this post -- the one that I thought provided the best history -- and I believe you can find some of the stories at that site. There are other websites as well. I think there's even a podcast of these stories, but I haven't looked into that. A search of "Lucrece Beale" will bring up info.