Ever so often, I hear the words “old fashioned Christmas” and immediately, a picture comes to my mind of our Christmases on the farm. They were not easy, by any means, but because they were interspersed with work and hard times, they were precious and that is precisely why I remember them.
The actuality of Christmas usually began with our school Christmas program, the Friday night before Christmas; our church program followed this on Christmas Eve, our family Christmas on Christmas Day morning, and then the trip to Buhler to visit with both of our grandparents and family.
Starting about a week before Christmas, doing the nightly chores with my dad was very special to me. Sometimes there was a soft snow falling gently from the sky, making the world dazzling in its glittering panorama. The clouds appeared to be gigantic comforters tossed about in the gray or navy blue sky. The soft white snowflakes fell about my face like little bits of cotton soothing my world in its softness.
Sometimes, however, the wind blew fiercely and made us run for the barn, the granary and the pigpen. It was while doing the chores in the barn, the stable like Baby Jesus was born in, brought reality to the Christmas story. We had a manger, close to the door of the inside of our barn, where we sometimes fed the cattle during bad weather. We also had some straw in the middle of the barn and it was my job to toss some into the cattle part for the animals to keep warm. I always thought of the shepherds coming to a place like this to see the Lord Jesus and it felt almost holy to me.
However, when we finished our chores and hurried back into the house. The frugal glow of the kerosene lamp beckoned to us and cast dancing shadows on the wall of the farmhouse. The pot bellied stove burned brightly and cheerfully, beckoning us to share her comfort.
It is when we sat cozily around the fire, Dad would take out his Bible and read the Christmas story from Luke, chapter 2. As he read, I could picture in my mind the events that had transpired. The shepherds out in the field of a starry night, hearing the message of the angels and then hurrying to the stable to view the baby Jesus in his bed of fresh straw, and his family.
No matter how early I woke up on Christmas morning, my mom would have gotten up earlier and had the stove burning brightly. I would be so excited to get my new doll, whatever it was, and giving my parents their gift, usually something I had made at Sunrise in the woodworking room.
Later, after the chores were done again, we would drive to Buhler for our relatives get together.
Again my Grandmother Lange would have worked hard on the big feast that was served in the dining room of their bungalow house on Buhler’s Main Street. The grown ups always got to eat first and then we children. It must have taken the women hours to wash all the dishes and put them away but we children didn’t really notice that part. Later, some gifts were exchanged. Each family always got a purchased fruitcake from my single aunt and most of the time; it did make us sick.
I remember one year my mother gave each family an oatmeal box filled with homemade fudge. It was so good, but that, too, probably made them sick. Too much of a good thing is not good for you, I found out.
Later, we again traveled across the town of Buhler to my grandmother Kroeker’s house. When we got there, we would all gather in her little dining, living room and do a Christmas program. If we kids had a Christmas piece or a song we had learned for one of our programs, we would have to say or sing it. Later, grandma would hand out the sacks and we had a wonderful time, deciphering what was in them. When my grandfather was alive, some years, we each received a silver dollar and we considered ourselves rich.
Later, as we drove home once again, we’d usually sing Christmas carols and reminiscence about the wonderful Christmas Day. When we got home, it was again, time to do chores. Life kept on at a working pace and it made us appreciate living all the more.
Why not make this year an old fashioned Christmas and enjoy the simple things of life. Most of all, let’s truly remember the One whose birth we celebrate!
May you each enjoy His presence.
Doris appreciates your comments and can be reached at [email protected]
By Doris Schroeder