Thursday, December 06, 2018

Christmas Memories of the 1930's

I was born in 1933, the youngest of 5 girls. It was the time of the Great Depression that started with the 1929 stock market crash that wiped out millions of investors and produced the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world.

We were living in Plainfield, New Jersey and, although we were never without the essentials we were definitely in the lower class. By that I mean that we didn't starve or stand in bread lines (as many of our neighbors were forced to do back then for lack of jobs) but we just barely managed to eke by.

My father was a production manager in an Ad Agency in NY City and he managed to keep his job but when his salary was cut he sold his prized stamp collection (that he had started as a young boy) to keep us going and my mother took in sewing.

1933 was also the year that Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidential election and our country began the long, hard road to recovery. How different were those years to the overwhelming commercialism of today and it is especially apparent to me as we approach another Christmas.

I have wonderful and nostalgic memories of the Christmases that I spent in those years but it never centered around gifts or the amount spent on them. My memories are of my Dad reading “The Christmas Carol” … of neighbors joining us in song fests … of a stocking filled with an orange in the toe ... of a tree covered with hand made ornaments … and, nestled under the tree, ONE GIFT for each of us carefully wrapped with love.

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Blogger Marie Smith said...

It sounds wonderful, Ginnie. I always think we didn’t know we were poor because everyone around us was the same. We didn’t have a lot but we always had enough!

10:21 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

See how long those memories last. Ask a kid today what he did and got last year for Christmas and he probably can't tell you. Make it two years ago and there is no bet. We were the lucky ones.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

There's truth here.

We were also on the poorer side, but Christmas was warm in my heart.

1:05 PM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

My father often spoke about his delight in getting that orange in the bottom of his stocking. He allows that he was an adult before he knew oranges ripened anytime other than Christmas.

9:12 AM  
Blogger possum said...

What a nice story.
I don't remember any of my childhood gifts but I remember my grandpop setting up his train under the tree. I was allowed to watch, but not touch.
And setting out hot chocolate and cookies for Santa.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

As you know, Ginnie, you and I share the same NJ hometown and I also had many happy Christmases there. My father was a self-employed electrician and my mother was a mom and homemaker after she and my dad married. we didn't have elaborate holidays, but I will always remember that the tree was decorated with lights and tinsel and my father set up a Lionel train set beneath it.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Joared said...

Enjoyed your reminiscences. I don’t recall Christmases until into the ‘40s when my mother was struggling to keep our family going by herself — unable to work outside the home. There was lots of love and caring for one another, special food treats. An orange was a treat even then. WWII was raging so we had rationing.

10:51 PM  

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