Friday, December 25, 2015


Christmas Eve, 1931

This was a big day, and Sadie, “American Farm Girl,” was excited. The adults put up with no foolishness, though. She was required to keep calm.

To everyone’s relief, Myrtle came in at lunchtime. Due to the snow, she had to walk from June’s place, leaving her suitcase for the time being. Now that Myrtle had arrived, it seemed to Ina that it really was Christmas.

Myrtle Dobson
Myrtle was a strong, independent woman who handled heavy work well. Never mind that she talked incessantly. The women were glad to have her help.  

Now it was time to get the tree. Ethel dressed Sadie in her snowsuit and she accompanied Jack and Ernest to get the tree. The snow was deep in places and it was rough going, but Sadie didn’t complain. Granddad showed her the pretty little tree he had saved for her Christmas at the farm, and she approved.

A heavy snowfall in the '30s
Back at the house, Ina had hot chocolate ready for the little girl and coffee for the adults. Jack set up the tree so that the womenfolk could get busy with the decorations. Then he made the final pre-Christmas trip to the mailbox where he found twenty Christmas cards and two more boxes of gifts -- one from Vance.

So, they opened Vance’s box first, knowing it contained holly and other greenery from the Washington coast which added so much to their holiday decorations. Out came a swag of greens he had made for the front door, which Myrtle hung immediately. Loose greens were tucked above pictures, placed on the mantel, and set aside to make a centerpiece for tomorrow’s dinner. And there were candles of the most beautiful red they had ever seen. Those, too, were saved for Christmas Day.

Sadie was allowed to help her grandmother decorate the tree. Ina had a dozen shiny brite balls, some old-fashioned tin icicles, lots of tinsel, and clip-on candle holders. Ina didn’t spend much for tree decorations, but this year she added a new box of tinsel and new candles.

Ina's tree
After supper – creamed onions on toast – Sadie got ready for bed and her father, Ernest, read her “The Night Before Christmas” from the old family copy. Then the family gathered in the living room. Jack and Myrtle lit the candles on the tree and blew out the kerosene lamps except for the one in the kitchen window. For ten minutes they quietly admired the candlelit tree. Then Granddad Jack screwed two cup hooks into the mantel – and he and Sadie hung their stockings. (Jack always hung his stocking when a child was there for Christmas.)

At bedtime, Sadie was admonished that if she arose early – and everyone knew she would – she was not to arouse any of the adults nor touch the gifts, but if Santa had filled her stocking, she could look at those things. Ernest took his daughter up to bed so that – well, you know.

Together Ina and her daughters placed gifts under the tree, including those received through the mail. In those days, packing boxes were wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. The boxes were opened with care and the brown paper and string saved for re-use. Ina was partial to the green string and liked to use it to tie some of the smaller gifts onto the tree.

And then it was time for everyone to retire. Well, not quite everyone. When the house was quiet, Ina reached under her bed for that special box (the rag doll and her clothes) and crept back downstairs. The box for Sadie was placed under the tree and the two stockings filled with trinkets such as the recipients would like. On the hearth she placed a coloring book and crayons to occupy little Sadie when she arose. Then she crept back upstairs. All was in readiness for Christmas morning. KW


Hallie said...

There's Santa giving a miniature model of the Titanic.

Kathy said...

Are you sure it's the Titanic?