a long time ago

Christmases in the Past

Sharing Stories
December 5, 2022 at 9:29 a.m.
We've learned never to use real candles on Christmas trees!
We've learned never to use real candles on Christmas trees!

...by Joan Minnis


Christmases in the Past

Christmas was a special time in my childhood. We did not get many gifts and didn’t have a typical tree. The only tree we had was small, on about a one-and-a-half-inch wood block painted white with holly berries. The tree was about 12 or 14 inches high, had green cellophane type paper (before plastic) with a holly berry on the end of each tiny branch.

The focus of our Christmas was the Christmas Eve church service along with the things our mom baked and cooked.  We had goose or turkey dinner with lots of trimmings on Christmas Day.  Mom raised the birds, butchered them, and cooked them. My parents invited bachelors who did not have a place to enjoy Christmas dinner even though, at that time, there were eight of us children and my parents.

The church service we attended was in a German Lutheran Church. The men sat on the right side, and the women sat with their children on the left side. The children were expected to sit quietly. We were “to be seen and not heard.” I think the Christmas tree had small candles instead of lights.

I especially remember one Christmas Eve service when I was probably seven or eight. My sister, Mavis, was three years younger, so four or five. We were given a “memory verse” to learn for the program. I can’t remember if the memory verse was in German or English. When it was our turn, we went up to recite our “piece” (as we called it) in front of the church. I was nervous but said mine. Then it was my little sister’s turn. Mavis just stood there. She had stage fright. I whispered her lines, but she couldn’t respond. Everyone laughed when I jabbed her with my elbow. I turned bright red, and we sat down. I was so mortified!

After the service, we all received our “sacks” as we called them. They were brown paper bags containing a few nuts and peanuts in the shell, ribbon candy, a couple of chocolate candies and either an orange or apple. Our grandmothers also gave us “sacks” at Christmas and Easter. They might add a pack of chewing gum and usually a Pfefferneuse cookie.  

Christmas was a wonderful time for us despite our poor surroundings. We felt blessed to have our family together and enjoyed sharing with other people who were not so blessed.

Joan Minnis lives in Washington and attended writing classes with Ariele. This excerpt is from A Holiday Sampler. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1540381889.


SHARING STORIES is a weekly column for and about the 50 plus crowd living in the Puget Sound region. Send your stories and photos to ariele@comcast.net. Tell local or personal stories; discuss concerns around aging and other issues; share solutions, good luck, and reasons to celebrate; poems are fine too. Pieces may be edited or excerpted. We reserve the right to select among pieces. Photos are always a plus and a one-sentence bio is requested (where you live, maybe age or career, retired status, etc.).
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