Christmas trees are already beginning to twinkle in stores and December is not even here. Brightly colored wrapping paper spills from bins and Santa’s smiling face is already beaming from display windows. Shoppers are urged to take advantage of all sales on the latest fads, and to buy, buy, buy before everything is picked over.
If you think it’s too early for all this, you’re probably not the only one. And yet, we’re swept along with the hype, believing we must get started early in order to avoid the hectic rush. But what if we didn’t buy into the whole busy commercial season? What if we decided to have an old fashioned holiday filled with warmth, beauty and peace?
In comparison, our forefathers, the pioneers, spent very little time and money on Christmas. Other than gathering around the fireplace on Christmas Eve to read the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible, most families usually limited celebrations to only Christmas Day.
Christmas trees were cut from the woods and dragged home to be decorated with berries, homemade popcorn chains, and other crafts. Sometimes a star was carved from wood and candles were lit.
Families like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s all pitched in to help with the meal. Children and all had a hand in preparing the simple, yet elegant fare. Grocery stores with fancy, packaged and processed foods did not exist back then. Families made do with what was available. Many times a pioneer Christmas meal consisted of only a wild turkey or goose along with homemade cornbread dressing, a few vegetables preserved from the garden and pies made from preserved fruits.
Gifts, too, were made from what was available. Hand made articles of clothing, homemade toys such as corn cob dolls, stuffed teddy bears, carved stick horses, and homemade peanut brittle made pioneer children squeal with delight. The day was enjoyed, eating, playing with toys and visiting with family and friends. The next day was back to work as usual.
Perhaps those days are long gone with the prairie winds but when commercialism overwhelms us, we can always remember that simpler time. Abandon the frenzy and choose to limit celebrations to several days instead of a month or longer. Decide to buy simpler, cook simpler, and enjoy family and friends. Merry Christmas!