Daily Archives: December 16, 2009

Christmas Then, It Was Different


Growing up in 1950s and 1960s America -it was a different world. My sons don’t really believe that. Like many other young people, they think that things have always been like they are now – for instance, crime and deviancy and government control, selfishness and a lack of self control, victimology,etc.

Life was palpably different. It was simpler. It was harder. It was better. (Right here is where one always has to insert the politically correct caveat about the things which actually have improved. That has become tiresome and I’ll resist it this time.)

A common complaint/observation about modern life is the commercialism, greed and joylessness at Christmas, which I believe is pretty accurate.

How has it changed? Well, for starters, it was a joyous season.

Born in the mid-1950s and raised in Mingo, a working class neighborhood, my friends and I looked forward to Christmas for lots of reasons, presents being only one of the many elements. Among them were the art projects and the yearly religious Christmas program at our public school, a program at church, shared secrets about gifts, helping my mother stamp the Christmas cards, receiving cards in the mail and hearing from friends and relatives, the family gathering to open presents on Christmas Eve (we had to wait until the sun was down and it seemed like it took forever). The big dinner at noon on Christmas day and the drive around Tulsa looking at lights on Christmas night. Daddy and Mama enjoyed it all as much as the children did.

One of my fondest memories is of the time I made marshmallow snowmen with toothpicks. That was a really simple thing but I remember how much fun it was.

Christmas wish lists were only in the cartoons. I never wrote one and if my friends did, they never told me about it. It never even occured to me.

None of the children in my neighborhood demanded particular gifts. Certainly there were things we wanted and told our parents about, but our world wasn’t centered around what we didn’t have or didn’t get. Christmas and birthdays were about the only times during the year when we got new toys but even then it was with restraint. I never had my own hula hoop or twirling baton or baby buggy or dollhouse, but some of my friends did and they shared nicely. It seems that I was the only one with Tinker Toys and I shared. My friend, Joy, had her mother’s original Shirley Temple doll and wicker doll buggy; we were allowed to play with it together.

My mother made all the females new Christmas dresses every year – everything else came from the store or catalog but even so it wasn’t as commercial as it is now. Retailers are only partly to blame for what has happened; we have become a very greedy, demanding society. There are gift registries for brides and babies and probably every other occasion; goodness, someone wouldn’t want a gift that they haven’t chosen for themselves!

We were not princesses and we certainly weren’t treated as such.

As for the decorating, we always had a cut tree and the big lights and a star on top of the tree. Each year my parent sent out lots of cards. Mama decorated with the ones we received and we enjoyed looking at them on display during December. She had a few other decorations sitting around, but it wasn’t the overwhelming obsession with more and more. I enjoy beautifully decorated houses at Christmas, but honestly, it is a little tiring just to even look at them.

This year Christmas is simpler at our house. Fewer decorations and I’m enjoying that. The perfect gift is not my goal; I am considering what each member of my family would enjoy and I’m also complying with what we can afford.

It is absolutely no coincidence that Christmas has lost a lot of joy in modern times. Leftist leaders have stripped as much meaning out of everything as they can.

If we can’t acknowledge the birth of our Saviour, how can we celebrate? Silly, manufactured “holidays” like kwanzaa and winter solstice are empty and hollow pathetic attempts at counterfeit substitutions for Jesus.

What is there to celebrate? God’s gift of His Son to a lost and dying world.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, America, Childhood pastimes, Christmas, Current Events, Faith, Family, Mingo, Oklahoma, Tulsa

Shirley Booth’s Chess Tarts Recipe

Shirley Booth and Don DeFore

http://www.flickr.com/photos/34637380@N00/3193268492

From Good Housekeeping, December 1964:

“Shirley Booth, like the generous person she is, gives Sally Edwards credit for these tarts.

CHESS TARTS

l package piecrust mix or favorite pastry for 2 crust pie
2 eggs
1/4 c. butter or margarine
dash salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup snipped, pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped California walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
candied cherries
slivers of preserved orange peel
slivers of preserved citron
green seedless grapes

Make day before serving as follows:
1. Make up piecrust; then, on lightly floured board, roll it out 1/8-inch thick. For each petal tart shell, cut out 5) 2 1/4-inch fluted pastry rounds. Place 1 round in bottom of each of 6) 2 3/4’inch muffin-pan cups. Wet edges of rest of rounds, then press 4 of them to sides and to round in bottom of each cup, overlapping edges slightly.

2. Prick well with 4-tined fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes; bake at 450 degrees F. 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool; lift each carefully from cup; store at room temperature.

3. In saucepan beat eggs well; then add butter or margarine, salt sugar, raisins, dates. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Refrigerate this filling, covered with waxed paper.

~About an hour before serving:

1. Stir walnuts and vanilla into filling; then pile some filling in each tart shell. Whip cream; use to top tarts. In center of each mound of cream place a cherry; surround with orange peel and citron. Refrigerate.

2. Arrange tarts on pretty serving plate; pass, with tiny bunches of grapes. Makes 6.”

Jim Manago has written a book “Love Is The Reason For It All – The Shirley Booth Story”. You can read about it here. His site is very impressive with lots of photos of Shirley Booth as well as stories behind the scenes of “Hazel” and other celebrities like Whitney Blake, Karen Carpenter, and Joyce van Patten.

Don DeFore was one of my favorite actors and it was fun to read the interview with his son. It makes me like him even more to know that he was an active conservative.

For those interested in purchasing the book, Jim recommends that you go to bookfinder.com.

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Filed under 1960's, Baking, Books, Christmas, Cooking, Internet links, Vintage Magazines