1918, A Sad Christmas


| 12/12/2011 10:30:57 AM


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The Rural New Yorker, a weekly farm paper, had this to say about the first Christmas after the end of the most horrible war up until that time.

The first thing that struck me was the total lack of holiday greetings to the readers from either the publisher or any of the advertisers. Not a single one appeared in either the Dec. 21st or 28th Rural New Yorker in 1918.

In fact, the holiday was hardly even mentioned, except for a couple of sober editorial references to how the old-time joy of Christmas was tempered by war losses and the "mighty spirit of disgust and hatred which the world feels toward the Germans and their allies."

One bright spot is a letter from a reader, titled, "The Christmas Thoughts of a Plain Farm Woman." The letter is quite long, so parts are excerpted here to show how this particular New York farm family celebrated the holiday that year.

"Not since I was a little girl have I had the feeling about Christmas which is mine this year. Ever since that wonderful Victory Day in November when America went wild with thankfulness, I have kept thinking, 'How can I show how glad and happy all this makes me?' It is not my way to make a lot of noise – either for gladness or sorrow. Uproar may be stimulating – it or something certainly was on Nov. 11, our Victory Day; but my emotions are of the inarticulate kind, and when most happy and thankful, there seems to be the least to say.

"Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is almost here. I feel that I can't do enough to express the Christmas feeling – a feeling I had felt was lost and gone forever. Before the war, we thought of Christmas mainly as meaning a lot of work – an awful expense – and some of us, I fear, found it almost a bore. We country women, of course, kept our feelings a bit more fresh than our city cousins, money in the majority of our homes not being plentiful enough to produce the stale attitude of undesire. And with far less outside interests to engross us, we entered more into the real spirit of the day, and gave and received homemade gifts with pleasure and understanding.