Thursday, December 24, 2015


[Please forgive the tardiness of the blog author. Life happened in real time.]
The family at the farmhouse awoke to a world of renewed whiteness. Sadie jumped out of bed the minute she heard Granddad’s footsteps on the stairs. Anticipating that she would be up early, her mother left her clothes in the kitchen beside the stove. Sadie quickly dressed, and Granddad helped her put on her snowsuit so that she could go to the barn with him while he did his chores.

“I’d forgotten how hard it is to get out of bed in winter at the farmhouse,” mumbled Ethel as she tugged the blankets more closely around her neck and nestled back into the covers. Ernest chuckled and pointed out that the chill of the house hadn’t bothered Sadie, “American Farm Girl.”

As she gathered the fortitude to get out of bed, Ethel pondered the situation at the homestead. It’s not easy to return to primitive conditions when one has become accustomed to “modern conveniences.” Not just personal comfort was involved, though. The impact on hygiene and health as household standards improved couldn’t be denied. The old folks growing older on the farm without water, indoor plumbing, and electrification was definitely a problem not easily solved. Nonetheless, allowing Sadie the opportunity to experience this life – to be the “American Farm Girl,” if only for a short time – was precious.

Ethel did get up, and so did Shirley, and she and Shirley fixed breakfast, allowing Ina to sleep in. The poor dear needed an extra hour in bed this morning, and no one begrudged her that. Ina had taught both Ethel and Shirley to cook and both knew how to manage the old wood range. They fixed another hearty farm breakfast – bacon, eggs, oatmeal, and toast, with butter, cream, and preserves.

Having baked cookies yesterday, today they frosted them. The gingerbread men were covered in white with currents and raisins for buttons and eyes.

After lunch, Jack and Sadie again went for the mail. This time there were two boxes of Christmas gifts and many more cards. The family gathered around the table in the diningroom with coffee and Christmas cookies to open cards and share the messages of goodwill. They took turns reading letters from friends and family. Sadie sat quietly putting together a small jigsaw puzzle.

After a light supper of chicken soup and farm bread, Ina pressed Jack into popping popcorn while she mixed the molasses coating. Using two big roasters, Jack poured the syrup from the heavy cast iron frying pan over the popcorn while Ina and Shirley quickly stirred. Then Ina sent Jack and Sadie to the livingroom to munch on bits of sugared popcorn in the bottom of the pan. The three women cleaned the kitchen and then packed boxes of the sugared corn for the party on Christmas Day. On the radio, a choir softly sang beautiful Christmas carols. KW

[I’ll bet you’re wondering if Ina ever mailed her packages. Yes, they were all mailed by Monday, the 21st. I think Jack just carried them out to the mailbox to be picked up by the mail carrier, but I wonder – does anyone know how the payment for postage was handled?]

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Here's what sister Harriet had to say about mailing packages on the rural route:

"I don’t know how postage was handled back in Ina’s day, but when I lived on the farm, I put my package in the mail box and the next day the mailman left me an envelope with the amount of postage due marked on the outside. I put that amount of money in the envelope and left it for him the following day. Easy and eveyone trusted everyone else. I expect it was about the same in Ina’s day. Harriet"

And that's pretty much what I thought. Neighbor Pete said he didn't remember, thought he did remember Aunt Bertha's oyster soup. "It was GOOD, too," he said.