1930s Childhood Christmas

Tiffany TuellDecember 20, 2012 

With Christmas just a few days away, stores are crowded with people trying to find the perfect gift for friends, family or that special person in their life. Wrapping paper covers the table and gifts pile up under the tree. But for a couple seniors, they reminisce on a simpler time when even one present and fellowship with friends was more than enough to fulfill all their Christmas wishes.

Doris Ward, 85, was born in 1927 and grew up on a Saskatchewan wheat farm that also had horses and cattle.

She was the third of four sisters -- being the little princess until the age of 10 when her little sister was born. It was a time when walking 1 1/2 miles each way to a one room school with nine grades was normal during both the summer and winter.

"I remember that we were quite poor, everyone was because it was The Great Depression, but we were always happy and had lots to eat," Ward said.

Instead of gathering around the television for a Christmas special, Ward's family gathered around the radio to listen to Christmas programs. Instead of going to the local shopping mall, everything was ordered out of a catalogue.

"Christmas was big for me," Ward said. "I just about wore that catalogue out because we could pick one present. I remember getting a doll and thought it was the most marvelous thing in the world."

On Christmas Eve Ward would set out cookies for Santa but never stayed up to watch for him because she wanted to make sure she got her present on Christmas morning.

"I was very excited on Christmas morning," Ward said. "Christmas Day was wonderful. Mom would get up early and put the turkey in the wood and coal oven and the turkey would always smell so good."

Ward didn't escape the day without a little work, though, and remembers peeling mountains of potatoes.

"I think it was just a special time because people were so mellow and when I see what happens today, it really saddens me," Ward said, adding

Gloria McKee, 84, was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1928 to Herb and Betty Byrd.

Because her father was in show business and owned theatres, McKee said she grew up backstage with the chorus girls. Sometimes they would even take her on stage much to her parents chagrin but McKee loved it.

At night when her father would close the theatre, he had a big German Shepherd dog named Vogel that would carry the money pouch in its mouth so her father never had to worry about being robbed.

Christmas was always a big, festive affair in the Byrd's home. McKee says her mother loved Christmas and her parents were always very generous.

"Mother loved Christmas and so did Daddy," McKee said. "They were very close and very in love."

McKee fondly remembers festive decorations throughout her home, company and especially her favorite -- big bowls of eggnog.

Christmas was a little different in the 1930s than it is now according to McKee.

"In those days, everyone had a fresh tree they cut down and most of the stuff was handmade," McKee said. "You either ordered it from Monkey Ward (Montgomery Ward) or you made something, gave candy or jelly."

But for McKee the best present of all are the childhood memories her parents were able give her growing up in show business.

"It was wonderful," McKee said. "To this day I still love show business."

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