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  • Martha Rasche

Christmas in the '20s


I love an old-fashioned Christmas story. This is part of one written in one of my classes by Anna Kern and shared by her at the opening of the Dubois County Museum’s Festival of Trees in 2014:

When I was a young girl, I used to make divinity and fudge with my mom each year on a Sunday in December. Divinity is a light candy made of egg whites beat to perfection. With no electric mixer to help ease the job, my mom and I mixed by hand.

We always wore aprons, made of feed sacks or chambray, which my family bought by the yard to make shirts for my dad and brothers.

Usually the divinity was white, though occasionally we added red food coloring to part of the batch and would swirl it; that made it look pretty.

Making Christmas cookies — oatmeal raisin, molasses and sugar cookies that the children got to decorate — was another December activity. We always got to eat the ones that were not so perfectly shaped. Walnuts and hickory nuts that had been gathered on the farm went into some of the cookies, and peanuts were roasted also to share with guests during the Christmas season.

A few days before Christmas, my dad would select a cedar tree from the many growing on our farm near St. Meinrad. He would put it in a tree stand and place it in the parlor, where the children were not allowed to enter until Christmas morning. My mom would decorate the tree with pretty handkerchiefs, pencils, candy canes and silvery icicles.

At Christmas, as many as could fit in the 1928 Chevy would get ready for church and go to midnight Mass; the rest would go to Mass on Christmas morning.

#writing

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