I don’t remember any Christmas lights on the outside of our home when I was a child. We had lights on the Christmas tree, but that was it as far as light decorations.
Now people use computers and hundreds of thousands of lights that make running displays to music. Every year the light shows on homes around the United States get bigger and more elaborate. I love to watch the TV programs that show them being put together and then the big presentation when they are finally done. I feel sorry for the judges who have to decide which home to give the trophy to.
The stuff that most kids get these days is just amazing to me. When we were kids we got one toy and the rest of our presents were clothes for school. We never expected anything more than that, and if there was something more, we were thrilled to get it.
Our trees were decorated with lights, tinsel, ornaments, strings of popcorn and also ones of cranberries.
Sometimes we made colored chains of construction paper; those were usually red and lots of fun to make.
In my native Minnesota, when Christmas was over, we took the tree outside after we had removed all the decorations, with the exception of the popcorn and cranberry strings. We added suet, bread and bacon rinds to give the birds a Christmas feast too.
It was a joy to watch all the different types of birds that visited the tree and see which goodies on it were their top choices.
I made all of the gifts I gave to my family as money was really tight back then. I saved almost every penny I got, but did spend some of it on the penny candy at the corner store.
Mainly, I embroidered initials on hankies for everyone in my family.
When I got older and could earn money doing chores for people, I was able to buy things. It was then I got Old Spice for the men and Evening in Paris for the ladies.
Other gifts would be table runners and pillow cases that I had embroidered flowers and other designs on. I never could get my little fingers to crochet doilies for some reason. Back then doilies were used on the back of chairs as well as on the chair arms. They were also used under lamps and other items to protect the wood from getting scratched.
Those were the ones that got starched while the others remained soft and held in place with straight pins.
I don’t see them on furniture like I used to and I miss the quaintness of them. Perhaps there are some senior ladies out there who are keeping the tradition alive and still making them.
I sure hope so; it would be a shame to see them disappear from our homes.
The strawberry and the pineapple designs were the ones that my grandma and mother made the most of, so they were always my favorites.
A native of Minnesota, Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. She can be reached at [email protected].