Sunday, December 28, 2008

Remembering the Farm: Christmas in the (not so distant) past

When we were very young kids, I remember our tree had little for fancy decoration, a few glow in the dark stars and snowflakes, some metal icicles, tinsel (saved year after year) and then popcorn strings and such we made for the occasion. No lights, even after we got electricity. Us kids saved and pooled our pennies to buy Mom and Dad ornaments for the tree as their Christmas gift from us. We slowly built up a box of decorations and were so happy when we could buy lights for them. The first string has maybe 12 or 15 and cost several dollars. Real money 50 years ago.

Mom and Dad got each of us kids a gift. We got a gift from a cousin on each side. There were 10 of us on Mom’s side and 8 (later 9) on Dad’s side. Names were “drawn” or more correctly organized in a round-robin fashion so we gave to and received from each cousin in turn. The adults were organized in similar fashion. Grandparents were included in the “draw”. Price limits were initially $2 later raised to $5.

Money was tight when we were very young. Allowance was 10¢ per week of which 1¢ went for tithe to the church. When we got older, for helping with chores we got the dollar equivalent of half a market pig (about $30), which was our Christmas spending money.

Christmas was usually spent at home. We each opened one gift Christmas Eve and the rest sometime Christmas Day. We had livestock and chores came first. Once they were looked after, Christmas could begin. Boxing Day (Dec 26th) Mom’s side of the family got together at Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s or at one of the three sisters’. I always looked forward to those visits.

Sometimes we had Christmas with Dad’s side. I recall once when Grandma and Grandpa Hingston were still living in Landis, in a two-room house with a heated veranda, we had Christmas supper there. We cousins were relegated to the veranda and entertained ourselves singing Christmas Carols at the top of our lungs. Hingston Family Christmas seemed more rare to me than Johnson family get-togethers, though thoroughly enjoyed (DC, I need some help here. Add info on Hingston Family Christmas, please).

When Ella and I were first married, we went to the farm for Christmas. Dad and I ground feed for the cattle Christmas morning (Dad was NOT organized) so we never got in until late for dinner and gift opening, etc. Then on Boxing Day, we bought a bunch of chickens from the neighbour and spent the day plucking and cleaning. For some reason I was never quite forgiven for that Christmas. On the bright side, every Christmas since was better.

3 comments:

  1. I remember those days. The styles in the photo brought back some memories. If you had a quarter back then you were rich. Mom didn't bother to wrap presents back then, she just put them under the tree with name tags.

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  2. I really don't recall being at a family Christmas while Grandpa and Grandma were at Landis. I mostly remember Grandpa and Grandma coming to our house for Christmas dinner when they lived in NB.

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  3. Demeur - we always wrapped gifts but the paper got recycled year after year. My addictions were model airplanes (WWI vintage) and Classics Illustrated. Each was hard earned and treasured.

    DC - maybe your family wasn't there and it was just Simpsons, Dales and us? Did the four families ever get together at Christmas?

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