We’ve all heard the stories about children in the old days who were so happy at Christmastime just to receive an orange, some nuts and candy, a handmade toy or an article of homemade clothing in their stockings. Well, it is true! My aunt Ethel who was born in 1920 in Silver City, Utah remembers…We hung up one of our regular stockings on Christmas eve, and in the morning were excited because Santa had visited. In our stockings, we would discover an orange or a banana, some nuts and candy, and a gift. The girls always got a doll while the boys got games to play like Old Maid cards, Checkers, Dominoes or Parcheesi. (I’m sure their widowed mother carefully saved money all year to be able to provide these gifts for her children.)
Ethel continues her memories of Christmases with her two sisters, two brothers, and a working mom…Sometimes we would each get a dollar to go shopping at Woolworth’s dime store in nearby Eureka to buy gifts for the family. Amazingly, it was possible to buy gifts for the whole family with just one dollar: handkerchiefs, combs, a head scarf, socks, gloves, a woolen cap or some candy could be bought then carefully wrapped and put under the tree to be opened on Christmas day.
The Johnson kids knew they wouldn’t be getting fancy gifts because their widowed mother just couldn’t supply that for them. She was lucky to keep food on the table and wood or coal in the pot belly stove to warm their two bedroom house with no indoor plumbing but their holiday meal was always special because she was an excellent cook. A turkey or chicken with delicious stuffing, whipped mashed potatoes and tasty gravy served with homemade rolls and pies were served and enjoyed by all which sometimes included invited friends and extended family members.
Ethel continues…Our loving Grandma Morby, who lived far away in Coalville, either brought or mailed us special gifts this time of year. One year she sent a small suitcase filled with different kinds of candy. What a treat that was for us kids. (What joy and appreciation they had for anything that was given them.)
May your holidays be blessed and filled with warm memories of your family’s traditional celebrations. Tell your children and grandchildren about your memorable Christmases or better yet write them down to preserve your family’s history.