Christmas History 32. Recently on Windows into History we have been looking at some letters from children published in a January 1910 edition of the Iowa Homestead, writing about how they spent their Christmas. The following is one last selection:
My Christmas was spent very differently this year to what I had spent it other years. We had always had our relatives who were able to get their own Christmas dinner, but this year we were thinking about those we could make happy by inviting them out for Christmas. There was a poor family living about two miles from us in the country. The mother was sick with consumption and had been sick for a long time, but was still able to drive. There were four children, the baby was one year old and the other children’s ages were four, six and eight years. They could not afford to have a Christmas dinner, besides the mother was not able to prepare it, as the father had to do the work, so we invited them to spend Christmas with us. They arrived about eleven o’clock Christmas morning. As the children bounced in with their merry laughter wishing us a merry Christmas and we pulled the large rocking chair close by the fire, mamma putting a large quilt in it so it would be more comfortable for the lady, then taking the baby and unwrapping it, the rest of us danced around the Christmas tree, which was the best they had ever seen. By this time dinner was ready and as everything was placed on the table we called dinner and as we sat down to the table and a fork was plunged into the turkey’s breast a savory smell filled the room and a murmur of delight went all around the table. And even the baby’s eyes jumped with delight as it saw the big red apples on the table. Dinner over, we played many games, such as playing the piano, singing songs, and playing house with our dolls. Then I gave each of them a large doll. Popcorn, nuts and candy were taken from the tree, each one receiving his share. Time flew so fast that they soon had to go home. We all thought our Christmas well spent in making others happy.
I am glad to have the opportunity to write to you and tell you how I spent my Christmas and what I am doing to pass my time. Well, the weather was stormy and I did not get to go to a Christmas tree, but I knew that Santa Claus had something stored away Christmas eve for me, but I did not say anything, so Christmas eve before I went to bed I put my plate on the table and said: “Santa Claus, remember me, when I am fast asleep, and do through the chimney creep, that in the morning I for joy may leap.” And so it was when I got up in the morning I leaped for joy when I saw my plate full of candy and a harp and a rubber ball and a package of mixed nuts. Oh! what else do you think I saw lying side of my plate on the table? It was a nice, big, dressed doll, fast asleep, and I picked her up and said “Hello, Katie,” and she opened her sweet brown eyes and looked right straight at me, with a sweet smile on her face, and I kissed her and laid her in my doll carriage which Santa Claus brought me four years ago last Christmas, and I kept it nice. I got two dolls, but they are not so large and nice as this one is now. I will be busy again to crochet my new doll a nice hood. I crocheted my other two dolls each a hood. I learned to crochet doll’s hoods from the girls in school. Oh! I sometimes wish Christmas would come oftener. We always go to church on Christmas, then the preacher always talks to us about Jesus being born on Christmas. I love to go to church, and to Sunday-school where we hear so much about our loving Jesus. I just wonder if all the girls and boys love Jesus. Well, I hope this will be interesting to all the girls and boys that read this. I am my mamma’s eleven-year-old girl.
The day before Christmas it snowed very hard and so I was looking forth to a merry sleigh ride. Christmas morning when I awoke it had stopped snowing and I got ready for a sleigh ride. Outside the sleigh was ready. I got in and soon we were riding along the country road. It was a pretty winter scene, the trees were all bare with now and then a lonely sparrow who gave a faint chirp. Everything was covered with snow and it was pleasant to hear the bells that jingled merrily. As we passed the church we heard the Christmas bells ringing and the pretty decorations made on account of the great holiday. It was noon when I returned home and I was ready for a hearty Christmas dinner. After dinner I got a Christmas basket ready. I got a large basket and put a turkey, cranberries, butter, bread, cake and a large plum pudding into it and also filled a large stocking with toys and books. I put on my coat and cap and took the basket to a neighbor’s home. These little children had never seen Christmas toys or even a Christmas dinner. I put the basket on the doorstep, put a card on it saying it was from me, and knocking hard on the door I vanished, leaving it for them to enjoy. It was almost dark when I returned home and it had begun to snow. In the evening, Santa Claus came. He brought a fur, combs, new register, ribbon, handkerchief, a new dolly dress, a small calendar from my dear teacher, a large Christmas tree and candy, oranges and nuts. I enjoyed Christmas very much and when I lay on my pillow in the evening I thought I had made other children happy besides myself.