Homemade Ornaments: Christmas on the Family Farm

Iowan talks about decorating the Christmas tree on her family farm with homemade ornaments

| Good Old Days

  • Farm Christmas
    Christmas on the family farm created unforgettable memories.
    Shutterstock.com/Conny Sjostrom

  • Farm Christmas

On the family farm, our Christmas tree was always a pasture ever-green put in a five-gallon bucket filled with sand or rocks to hold it upright. Our homemade ornaments were quite simple, but we thought they were beautiful-strung popcorn, chains of paper, either construction paper cut in strips or colored with Crayolas, a few treasured glass balls (wish I still had them), and of course, icicles. I can remember having clip-on candle holders with candles but can never remember lighting the candles. Mother probably realized what a fire hazard they would be. We hung wreaths in the windows and "honeycomb" bells in the doorways. Our tree was always in the parlor, since we didn't heat that room, so we placed it near the see-through "French doors" in order to enjoy it.

Breakfast and outdoor farm chores were done before we were allowed to open any presents. Our presents were quite simple, mostly clothes that we really needed, maybe a doll or homemade doll clothes, books or games. We had an orange and some hard candy in our socks. There were gifts from the grandparents too, nothing elaborate by today's standards to be sure, but we were always proud and appreciative of whatever we received.

Christmas dinner was always special. I never remember having turkey, usually pork or roast beef or maybe roast chicken and dressing, fluffy mashed potatoes, hot homemade rolls with lots of butter and jelly, home-canned green beans or scalloped corn with oysters, gelatin salads and pumpkin or mincemeat pie after dinner. We stuffed ourselves with homemade candy, fudge, divinity and peanut brittle. After a fun-filled day with various grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, it was time to bundle up and do the evening chores: feed the chickens and the hogs, gather the eggs and milk the cows. After that another. Christmas was tucked away In our memory.

Ann Wyer
Corydon, Iowa

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. 

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