Here are some Christmas tales via Vernon.
Me: What was Christmas like? What presents did you receive?
Vernon: 80% of the kids were lucky to have bare, meager things. Sometimes I would receive an apple or an orange, or maybe a little dab of candy, English walnuts, maybe a ball.
In 1938 I received a sled with an iron runner. If I got a pair of boots in the winter I could go out in the snow. I would also get a pair of woolen socks with a red stripe at the top. I had cousins that put hog nails in their boots to keep from slipping - they projected from the bottom - the similitude of cleats put in by cobblers.
My memories are beautiful. I didn't care if I got anything at all. A sponge rubber ball would be nice.
Me: What about decorations? A tree?
Vernon: The decorations were mostly handmade - a handmade chain of different colored paper and we would drape that around the tree. We also popped popcorn and strung it on the tree. We cut our own tree. People kept an eye on a tree they wanted and they would cut it down (unless someone else had an eye on it too). We didn't have electricity-
Me: -Did you use candles on the tree?
Vernon: A tree could become dry. That would be dangerous. We often didn't use candles (on the tree).
We would take a pan - like a bread pan - and put wax in the bottom then place 7-8 candles in, and place on a dresser top.
Me: What about outside decorations?
Vernon: Rarely. Sometimes 2 or 3 trees were cut and put on the porch as decoration. I did see that. Interior decorations on the wall sometimes. If they had enough money they could get decorations from Murphy's.
Me: What about on Christmas day, did people go to church? What activities?
Vernon: The place to go was the Streeter Schoolhouse for a large congregation. It was full of people. It was a special time of year (like Easter) when people could visit.
On Christmas day my dad would set up shooting matches and there were presents for the winner (there was moonshine too).
The shooting day was a tradition for him (shotgun not rifle shooting). They would have a splatter match. A card is passed around and each would circle his name on the target along with everyone else. You tried to hit your name on the card. There was also an individual card for the individual match and you would do the shooting at your own card. There were prizes for the group and individual shooting matches. One large prize: like a ham, or a knife...something of considerable value.
Me: Did anyone have a sled or horse and sleigh?
Vernon: A guy who lived up the creek did - he put paper around the horse's harness - an ornament on the hames - and sometimes sleigh bells. This might have been one of the Adkins, but I was 6 years old...
Me: How did the generation before you celebrate?
Vernon: Mother spoke of Christmas past - almost the same as how we celebrated Christmas - most of it was handmade. Mother made dolls out of socks - probably a tradition from her day. They had trees- decorations.