Christmas in my childhood in the 1930’s
I will try and remember some of the things that we did at Christmas when I was a child. The main thing I remember is that my parents told us that if we not good that Santa would not come to visit us. That kept a lot of commotion from popping up as the Holiday Season drew near.
The first Christmas gift that I remember was a little Red chair that Santa had left in an upstairs closet for me. I always wondered how he knew to put it in that closet. The next gift that I remember was that I received a doll for every Christmas. Each year the doll that I received was larger. I had 5 dolls ranging from a very small doll to a large doll and I played with the 5 dolls all at the same time as I got a little older.
I remember that my brother Don bought me a little tin tea set and I kept that until I was about 25 years old and then I let my son Hugh play with it and it was lost. I even had the box until I was that old. Another gift that I really enjoyed was a little cast iron Model T Ford. I liked that toy car . We also received marbles and we played marbles on a crocheted rug.
Now some of the traditions that we celebrated at our house. We usually went to the Christmas program at the Methodist church in Geneva and I remember one year that we went to church in the sleigh which was pulled by the horses. It was 3 miles to Geneva from our house and the roads must have been blocked with snow and we were unable to go by car. Think we heated rocks to keep us warm and wrapped up in blankets for the ride into town.
My Mother always made her famous date filled cookies at Christmas time and I have continued to do that every year also. The receipt was brought from Denmark by her Mother and they are very delicious cookies . We usually had goose or duck for our Christmas dinner and Mother made oyster stuffing or her stuffing made with bread, raisins, apples, onions and an egg. I still make the dressing with the apples and so forth. We had mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberries and probably creamed peas and carrots. Maybe jello with whipped cream .
As there were 6 of us children in the family we drew names after we were a little older and usually had only one gift. We did have a Christmas tree and decorations.
We always had a Christmas program in the country schools where I grew up. The children put on plays, we sang Christmas carols and one year I learned how to clog and we danced for the parents. Two children were assigned to draw the curtains and we were out in the hall until our turn came to recite in the plays or sing. Of course all the parents came and I can’t remember if we had refreshments or not but I think that we did.
I can remember being in a church program in Ellendale after we had moved to the farm south of Hope. I would have been about 9 years old at that time. I can remember my Mother saying that I had the lightest blonde hair of any child in the program.
The folks used to send out a lot of Christmas cards and the postage on the cards was one and one half cents. They heard from all the cousins and brothers and sisters in Iowa and their nieces and nephews. It was a time when families kept in contact with each other before the day of long distance telephones.
There was not much money to be spent on gifts but we all had a good time anyway. Remember that this was in the Great Depression and money was very limited. This is a little about what I remember in the 1930’s.