Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Father's Memory of Childhood Christmases

When I was a child I once asked my father about his childhood Christmases. I wanted to know about Santa and Christmas gifts, about food, and about family activities. Dad nearly never talked about his childhood so I didn't push by asking specific questions.

He told me that when he went to bed on Christmas Eve, there was no tree in the house nor any sign of a tree anywhere. On Christmas morning he awoke to a decorated Christmas tree which seemed to have magically appeared.

The only gifts he received were those in his stocking: an orange, some nuts in their shells, a candy cane, and perhaps a small toy.

His Christmases may have been typical of other farm families of the area at that time. Dad was born in 1913 and grew up on a farm in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania. He lived with his father and step-mother. His childhood Christmases may have been sparse but he provided abundant Christmases for his own children.

Merry Christmas to all of you who stop by to read my blog.


  1. Merry Christmas, Nancy! I think it's really special that he went to bed with no signs of Christmas only to wake to a decorated tree and filled stocking. I think it's easier to remember the reason we celebrate that way. Things have certainly changed over time and your post really does make me wonder how our ancestors celebrated!

  2. Nancy, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas-- technically, it's still Christmas till January 6th!

    Your Dad and others of his generation may not have gotten huge expensive gifts, but somehow I think their holidays were happier.

  3. Cheryl and Karen K., I think you're both probably right about simpler being happier and easier to remember the reason for Christmas.

    I hope you both had a happy Christmas and memorable celebrations.

  4. Belated Merry Christmas wishes!

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It helped me better understand what holidays were like in Pennsylvania years ago. My grandmother's family also seemed to celebrate holidays(Christmas, Thanksgiving)in a very low-key way. I had thought that maybe something was unusual about her family since old magazines from early 1900s show drawings of Christmas celebrations that seem fairly similar to what we do now. But maybe Pennsylvania farm families were still celebrating the holidays in a more traditional laid-back way.

  5. My husband's Christmases as a child were exactly like this. I had never heard of waiting until the night of Christmas to decorate the tree. He is from western Pennsylvania, Beaver County.


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