By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1987
Issue: December, 1987
Remember how much fun it used to be decorating for Christmas? Now–a–days, I can hardly believe my eyes when I see Santa Claus setting with Halloween monsters. Thank Goodness! I can still have some memories of an old fashioned Christmas and make all my decorations, and have fun.
As a child, I really enjoyed the month of December at Mountain View School because we turned the whole school room into a festive atmosphere and had a ball decorating. Every window got something to wear for Christmas; snowmen, bells, Santas, Christmas trees, and snowflakes, all made from colored paper or our white writing paper. If the paper was white, we used our crayons and made pretty colors. Stars were cut of cardboard and covered with tinfoil, or colored.
We had some glue at school, but made a lot of paste, using flour and water. I've made a lot of paste this way and it works as well as glue.
Colored paper was cut into strips and glued for paper chains. We put paper chains on our blackboard and the Christmas tree. A lot of popcorn was strung and a lot more was eaten. Maybe the next time you string popcorn for the tree, try using cranberries also. This makes a very pretty decoration.
I've always fixed a gumdrop tree at Christmas time using a thorn bough, just be careful you don't prick your fingers. If you have children, they will eat the gumdrops off. I know from experience. My son would get the pretty colored gumdrops off my tree and eat them. My tree looked kind of ragged most of the time, but I just kept adding on gumdrops. They were much cheaper in those days.
Some of the elderly people tell me even though they didn't have any decorations except for what they could scrap up from different things, there was something special about Christmas. One lady said they always put an unwrapped toy on their tree; most of the time it was a homemade toy.
Christmas programs were a big thing at Mountain View School. Children of all ages took part singing, reciting poems, and being in plays. We had programs in our classrooms, but the big auditorium with a stage was the scene of a big Christmas program; all the parents and whole family's came – just about the whole neighborhood.
At last the big night had come. An air of excitement filled the school. The big tree was beautiful and the children's eyes shown with excitement, even the adults were excited. I got my first doll at one of these programs, given to me by Santa.
And speaking of Santa Claus, one Christmas Eve I was at my Grandpa Hall's and there was a loud knock on the door. Grandpa opened the door and there stood Santa with a pack on his back. Carrying a lantern, he came in the living room saying, "Hello there boys and girls." Then he reached into the sack and began giving out presents. My present was a beautiful doll and a big peppermint stick. After Santa had given everyone a present and said "Merry Christmas," he went walking up the road. At a neighbor's home, Santa stopped at the barn, loaded his sack, and came walking up through the meadow. Some people don't believe in Santa Claus, but that was a real Santa that came to Grandpa Hall's that Christmas Eve long ago.
Remember when you could get big bunches of raisins on the stem? They were so good. I miss those a lot at Christmas and wish I could taste them one more time. If you have never eaten raisins on the stem, you have missed a big treat. They aren't the same in a box.
When I was a child, December was a busy month, and kept little hands busy. At night Granny Dollie and I cracked walnuts and hickory nuts for cakes. I didn't mind the walnuts, but you could work for hours with those hickory nuts and never get anywhere. I love to pick them up in the fall, but didn't care for cracking those little rascals.
As Christmas time nears, don't forget the real meaning, and you will have the best one ever. Try doing some of the old timey things and you'll have fun doing them. And me! I'll be watching for Santa Claus to come walking up the road.
"Merry Christmas to All"