Yesterday's Magazette

2 – Viewpoint

Old-Fashioned Christmas Memories

As I looked out the kitchen window of our farm house, the yard light made the snow sparkle and glisten as it fell softly to the ground. It always seemed so delightful to have snow on Christmas Eve; of course not a big blizzard, but just enough to add a magical feeling to the evening. Dad had just gotten home from the Christmas drawing that the town of Goldfield held each year. I lived with my parents and a sister on our family farm near Goldfield and Eagle Grove, Iowa.

YM:XmasMemories:Dodge

During the 1940s and early 50s when I was growing up, the Goldfield Methodist Church held their Christmas program on Christmas Eve. The youngest children performed first by singing a Christmas Carol, usually Away in a Manger. For that night, we were dressed in our very best clothes. Mothers quite often sewed their children’s new outfits for the occasion.

This program was enjoyed by mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles,brothers, sisters and friends. One never quite knew what the youngest children might do as they stood in a row looking out on the people watching them. Often one of the girls would hold up the hem of her dress, others might talk out of turn, and there might be one child that decided to go down the steps and find his or her mother and father. But tonight was special, the teachers and children could do no wrong; there was love in the air, as we celebrated the birth of the Christ Child.

Next it was time for the older children to do their part in the program. Often each child held a piece of heavy paper with a letter printed on it. As the children stood in a row and held their letters up, it would spell a word pertaining to Christmas. Each child had a verse to say that they had practiced many times. It was our special night.

Last on the program the high school boys and girls portrayed the birth of Jesus in a lowly manger. The wise men, shepherds, Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus were dressed in clothes reflecting what was worn at the time of Jesus’ birth. The program closed with everyone in the congregation singing a favorite carol, often Silent Night.

The children in each class would have a gift exchange; the teachers would also bring a small present for each child in her class. Most of the children brought a gift for their teacher too. Each child could hardly wait until she opened the gift they had brought. Mothers would come up with creative ideas such as making a candle or baking pumpkin and banana bread. Some would buy pot holders, towels, or handkerchiefs for the teacher.

When the program ended, a small, brown-paper sack was given to each child that was filled with peanuts in the shell, hard old-fashioned candy, an apple, and sometimes an orange.

On this special night, the minister was given a gift of money for all the thoughtful things he had done for the church members throughout the year. As the program ended, everyone was excited to go back home or to some relative’s house to celebrate Christmas.

After the program, we went to the home of my Grandpa and Grandma McCutcheon’s in Goldfield. We would celebrate Christmas with them. Dad’s sister and her family would be there too. I always loved opening my gift from Grandma; she always picked out jewelry, perfume, books, or other neat things that a young girl would like.

Presents were exchanged and Christmas goodies were enjoyed. The one thing that fascinated me the most on Grandma’s tree were the red and green bubble lights. I would have loved to have some on our tree, but Mother had said, “They were too expensive.”

Soon it was time for us to go home, hang out our stockings, climb into bed, and wonder, “Is there really a Santa Claus?”

As you celebrate each Christmas, take the time to tell your family some of the precious memories from your growing up years that you hang onto so tightly. Your family will be delighted to hear of those memories and traditions that are so dear to your heart.

– Barbara Dodge

Vol. 38 No.4 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – Winter- 2011-12

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