First Things

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Memories Of A Former Kid
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At the holidays, it seems we all get nostalgic
for Christmas in the country… whether we grew up on a farm, or not.
The very great irony of that is this: Many who yearn for what they
perceive to be a simpler time, a gentler holiday, would never be
able to keep up with the pace of Christmas on the farm, decades
ago.

Women of today who shop for the holiday feast at a grocery the
size of a football field would break into hives if transported back
to the 1920s. Baked goods were baked at home; preserves were
home-canned from homegrown fruit; candies and confections were
handmade.

Men who use a mouse to shop for game systems for their kids
would have taken a different tack 80 or 90 years ago. Store-bought
toys were the exception, not the rule. In the weeks leading to the
holiday, fathers routinely spent long evenings sequestered in the
workshop, covertly crafting hand-built toys for their children.

Nearly everything for the celebration, in fact, was homemade.
Costumes for the Sunday school pageant, many of the decorations,
food, gifts and festive finery were all the product of the farm
family’s hands. A tree and boughs of greenery were gathered in the
woods, barnyard turkeys and geese were sized up for the platter,
and entertainment – caroling, skating and sleigh rides – was
strictly home-grown.

As the credit card ad would conclude, old time celebrations on
the farm were priceless. “The Christmas we used to have on Paradise
Farm, when I was in knee-pants and only knee-high to a grasshopper,
had a lot to it,” writes Robert Coffin, author of Mainstays of
Maine
. “An amazing lot. And the beauty of it was that about
all the ingredients that went into our Christmas were homemade. We
raised them all right there on the farm.”

This is the time of year when we yearn for holidays most of us
never knew – those in which no batteries were required, when
generations gathered ’round the piano because the TV had not yet
been invented, when jigsaw puzzles and board games and sleigh rides
represented big fun. It’s a dream, to be sure, but dreams are free,
and at this time year, they’re particularly sweet. Happy holidays
from all of us at Farm Collector!

Leslie McManus, Editor
lmcmanus@ogdenpubs.com

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment