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Honored Advisor

A Hundred Christmases

As we settled in to visit at Mike's sister's house this afternoon, It occurred to me that this is his mother's 100th Christmas. That has to cover a lot of changes in traditions, for sure.

How did they get so many wonderful foods made on a wood cookstove, with its not-as-certain temperatures? Who could manage with no electricity or refrigeration? No convenience foods... pluck your own turkey and kill your own hog, salt and smoke it for ham.

The light shows we take for granted were impossible until after the REA brought lines into the countryside, in the mid-forties. I am sure none of them had automobiles when she was a child, so getting to grandma's house meant a horse-drawn wagon ride or a good brisk walk.

No football games or cartoon specials on television, no television! Not even radio. Hard to imagine, sitting in a beautiful home with tasteful decorations and a lovely buffet set. We travelled right at 200 miles today, more than many moved about in a year back then. Flights? Forget about it!

MIL didn't talk as much today as in years past, so I didn't get a chance to pull out her personal memories of Christmases past. I guess when you've seen a hundred of them, it gets harder to recall each one. This was Mike's and my sixtieth, and it's hard enough for us to think back but so far.

What is your earliest Christmas memory?
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turkey feather
Senior Contributor

Re: A Hundred Christmases

No early memories of Christmas. I have been sorting my office a little at a time and looking again at the genealogical info. I told a few stories at the table last night to the grands about how the family arrived in America. All the branches have similar stories. One walked to SW IN from NE Ohio to find a new home another walked from NY to S IN and back. In both cases the families were packing to move thinking the men were dead. I wonder if they may have gone in groups to make survival chances better. Over three year period 80 families moved to this area from NE Ohio.


The best story is that of an ancestor who left Germany with his family and ended up here. When he sold his property there he piled the money in the corner of the house. (I think if would have been coins?) Then he took what he could carry in his pouch and pockets and left the remainder. The girls having very deep pockets filled them and the kids carried the rest of the money secretly. When they were settled in America the dad said he wished he had the money he left in the house. The girls brought out the remaining money to dad's surprise.


I woke up this am thinking about the Mormans who walked across the country. One story in a book I read recently told the story of a eight year old girl in England whose mother gave the Morman man who was recruiting people permission to take the girl to Utah. Landing in New Orleans the girl and the group walked to the Morman settlement in Utah.


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Honored Advisor

Re: A Hundred Christmases

That is a very familiar story in Virginia history, unfortunately. Many of the earliest workers brought in to work in the colonial enterprises were street children from London's slum areas. Others were convicts, especially those with skills.

The death toll was so exorbitant, due to diseases like malaria, overwork and underfed conditions, that some groups transported suffered 80% or worse death rates in just a year or so in the New World. Some convicts begged to be hanged, instead of conscripted to work in the English colonies, snce it was deemed an easier death.

Into that system were also committed indentured servants. In both my mother's maternal side and my father's payernal side were two young men who arrived together on the " Susan Constant" in 1626. They travelled under the agreement known as headrights. They both somehow managed to survive and father several the same woman! One married the other's widow.

If I could meet and learn from one person, living or dead, whom I don't already know, it would be this woman, Ann Foster Williamson Carraway. She had thirteen children by these two men, who syrvived a brutal system of servitude. She had to have been one tough cookie!

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