Saturday, December 24, 2016


Shirley [daughter] came home Wednesday evening and from then on it seemed really like Christmas to me. Thursday forenoon [Christmas Eve] Shirley Jean went with Ernest to get the tree, and Dad [Ina’s husband Jack] set it up. Then she, Shirley, and Henry trimmed it. Shirley Jean was thrilled to be allowed to tie on gifts, etc. She hung up her stocking at the fireplace and Dad did too as he usually does when a grandchild is here. Ina Dobson, Christmas 1936

Christmas of 1936 was special for Ina and Jack Dobson. Daughter Ethel and her husband Ernest Robinson came with their only child, 10-year-old Shirley Jean, and daughter Shirley and her fiancé Henry were also there.

Our players in a different era (c 1952)
I’d like to tell you that Christmas Eve was (and is) a nice relaxed day for those who hosted a party. Nothing was (or is) further from the truth. Of course I wasn’t there at Ina’s, but I know that she was an organized person who eschewed clutter, which put her way ahead of some of us (me). However, she was not free of her duties as housewife because loved Christmas had come once again. She had to attend to her chores, the cooking, and other details of the day. I’m sure her daughters, fully trained in managing country life, were great help.

And my mother also needed help as she prepared for the Christmas celebration. She didn’t seem to realize she was taking on way more than she could do, but she tried year after year. Certainly my dad helped her, and I like to think I was good help as I grew up. I wrapped packages and cleaned the house while she spent a lot of time in the kitchen. And when I was no longer available to be her right-hand man, sister Harriet and Bill came early to vacuum, stash magazines, and coax the house to BHG status.

Well, all of this is in the past, and as much as I miss the party – and I do – I don’t miss the pressure to be perfect. “Don't knock yourself out cleaning and cooking,” wrote daughter Hallie in this morning’s email. “You must take some time to reflect and be grateful.” But who is she kidding? If she walked in the door right now, she’d have to clean the counters. KW

[The photo from left: Vance holding Kathy; Shirley Jean behind Vance, her husband Dale Johnson holding daughter Patty; Myrtle (Lynn), Ina, and Ethel. My mother took the picture.]

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