Thursday, December 17, 2015


Farmhouse c. 1918

The world outside was dressed in white finery. While Ina appreciated the beauty of it, she couldn’t help but worry about those who would be traveling – Ethel and her family, Myrtle, not to mention untold others. The time was still a few days off, though, and there was nothing she could do about the weather anyway. She just as well relax and enjoy the scenery.

This was upstairs cleaning day. Shirley and Ina donned their sweaters and went upstairs to ready the bedrooms for guests. Yes, it was chilly up there. Thankfully, the guest bed was ready, and now that they knew for sure that Myrtle was coming, they made a mattress of quilts for Sadie on the floor of the room her parents would use. Shirley stretched out on it and proclaimed it comfortable and then they made it up as a bed.

Ina dusted and Shirley dust mopped, and then they hurried down to the kitchen to warm themselves by the wood range, teeth chattering. After a hot lunch of baked beans and bread, which they ate at the little table in the kitchen, they made quick work of the dishes and set to work wrapping gifts to be mailed.

Ina's house is basically unchanged.
Ina sent gifts to her three absent children as well as her sisters, Ida and Mabel. Gift items included “new” books they had carefully read; handmade items, such as aprons, dress protectors, or bread basket liners; “premium” gifts awarded through the seed warehouse; jar goods, such as jams and jellies put up in the summer; beans from the harvest; popcorn grown by Jack; or any item Ina deemed useful but wasn’t using herself. Giving was important to Ina, and she gave from her storehouse. 

Used wrapping paper
But, Ina did not mail early. When they had finished wrapping the gifts in used paper carefully saved from last year, she and Shirley moved them to an out-of-the-way spot. She would see to it they were all mailed by Monday, the 21st. The boxes would be delivered before Christmas – or not – but Ina would have done her part.

The fun of Christmas, you see, was that boxes were delivered during the season – I mean, right at Christmastime. Never mind that the Post Office couldn’t keep up with this old-fashioned practice and was already admonishing people to “mail early.”

Ina was pleased that she had finished the nightgown for granddaughter Sadie’s rag doll. She suspected that the doll would be most important at bedtime. But she was also pleased to find she had extra time to make a dress or two for the doll. It would just have to wait till tomorrow, that’s all. KW


Chris said...

You know, I sometimes think I should have days for certain work, but then I say, "Nah, I need to be spontaneous!" Too bad spontaneous doesn't happen often enough. :-)

Hallie said...

Christmas card writing and design is so flat compared to the thoughtful cards of past. I like the little message.

Kathy said...

I can certainly relate to what you say, Chris. Cleaning house cuts into my creative time.

I'm no expert on the history of Christmas cards, but it's an understatement to say the tradition has fallen off. The cards aren't what they used to be (and there isn't the demand for them), postage is high, and people don't have the time.