We’re all (except Linda’s daughter, son-in-law, and newest grandchild, who will be in Minnesota) gathering in Natick, MA, for Christmas gift-exchange (like many people we drew names) and dinner at the home of Linda’s son & family. Like many people we drew names for the adults & agreed to prudent gift-giving for the children.
In thinking about this time of year, here is what a very dear lifelong friend (whose mother was my Girl Scout leader many years ago) wrote via e-mail: “I love the beauty of the season. Our tree and decorations bring out the nostalgia in me. Since packages are few (we draw names), old toys surround the tree. I find myself doing what Mother did. She took plates of cookies to elderly ladies in North Warren. I have chosen three who feel like gifts to me.”
For a historical perspective, here is an excerpt from Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s autobiography, Eighty Years & More: Reminiscences 1815-1897. Note: she grew up in a wealthy family “As St. Nicholas was supposed to come down the chimney, our stockings were pinned on a broomstick, laid across two chairs in front of the fireplace. We retired on Christmas Eve with the most pleasing anticipations of what would be in our stockings next morning. . . . The boys and girls of 1897 will laugh when they hear of the contents of our stockings in 1823. There was a little paper of candy, one of raisins, another of nuts, a red apple, an olie-koek, and a bright silver quarter of a dollar in the toe. If a child had been guilty of any erratic performances during the year, which was often my case, a long stick would protrude from the stocking. . . . During the day we would take a drive over the snow-clad hills and valleys in a long red lumber sleigh. All the children it could hold made the forests echo with their songs and laughter.”