Christmas Dinner During the Depression Era

Wisconsin woman describes the Christmas dinner that her grandparents made during the depression era

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Mother's parents came from England on their wedding trip in 1873. The English are not noted for being excellent cooks, and maybe my mother was not an outstanding cook, but she had learned her lessons well from her English mother.

During the Depression era we had chicken for Christmas dinner. Of course, it was boiled, not roasted. With it my mother served the very best baking powder biscuits drowned in the gravy made from the water in which the chicken had been boiled.

She served mashed potatoes and mashed boiled rutabagas.

Being English, we poured vinegar over our rutabagas.

Usually there was cabbage salad. This was made with shredded cabbage molded in lemon jello.

There were home-canned beet pickles and dill pickles.

The highlight of the meal, of course, was the eagerly awaited Plum Pudding. The recipe had been brought to America by my grandparents. The sauce was a simple one made with brown sugar and water, thickened with cornstarch and flavored with lemon extract.

Later in the afternoon we shelled mixed nuts with a nutcracker and dipped each nut-meat in salt - enough to make sodium-conscious people shudder. For those who had regained their appetites there were shiny red apples.

Mary Gaylord
Balsam Lake, Wisconsin


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.