Western Wednesday: Christmas in the Old West
|Photo: public domain|
Christmas trees were popularized in the mid-1800s when Queen Victoria’s German husband brought the tradition from his homeland. Magazines picked up the story, and soon Americans embraced the practice as well. Living in the prairie where trees were scarce, most homesteaders probably didn’t put up a tree, but stockings and other decorations were popular. For those who did put up a tree, ornaments were bits of ribbon or yarn, berries, popcorn or paper strings, and other homemade decorations.
The holiday meal was a big deal, and women pulled out all the stops to create a feast. Their husbands
went hunting for game, while they baked bread and sweets as well as brought out preserved fruits and vegetables. Plum pudding would have been prepared well ahead to allow it time to age before Christmas dinner.
|Photo: UNM Archives|
Gifts would have been simple and primarily homemade, either because of the financial situation of the family or the lack of items available. Cornhusk or rag dolls for little girls, carved wooden toys, embroidered hankies, pillows, scarves, hats, mittens, and socks would be worked on during the year. If the family had a successful year, children might also find candy and other store-bought goodies in their stockings.
Christmas eve traditions differed for each family, but many would gather to sing carols around the fireplace. On Christmas Day, most would head to church for a special service, then return home for the big meal and opening of presents. Afterward, if the weather was fine, they would travel around the community visiting with friends and neighbors.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!
A Doctor in the House: A Christmas Romance
Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital. She leaves behind everything that is familiar and arrives in the unfamiliar country a short time before Christmas. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart?
Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she?
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