“Memories of Thanksgiving’s and Christmas’s so Special” By Bob Williamson

As a child raised in the Berton and Erma Williamson home the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas were special. There were dinners on both sides of the family where there was lots of visiting, tables full of food prepared by each family, and it was usually their favorite recipes. I remember the yummy pies, cakes, cookies, corn casseroles, meat dishes, always enough for a small army of hungry cousins and aunties and uncles! No one went home with any hunger pain, only concern was that you did not get sick from over eating.

The holiday season is upon us and one cannot help but have favorite memories of these family and neighborhood gathering.
Going to Grandpa and Grandma Williamsons brings memories of wood piles just outside the back door to stoke the wood stove and furnace. Having to be quiet and not holler and run and tease as Grandpa often was not feeling well and would be upstairs in his bedroom resting. He would come down to eat and visit some. I strongly suspect that younger kids and all their playing with great enthusiasm bothered him and soon as the afternoon ticked on he would disappear again and go back to his “man cave” upstairs. I remember he smoked cigars and really never hugged or held the grandchildren. But we all were assured we were loved and in younger years he was a wonderful father and husband and loved his family. Grandmother’s dinners were plentiful and the corn casserole always had oysters in it. Strawberry jello and cookies with milk and coffee made up the desserts. We had to leave in the late afternoon as all the farm families had to get home to chore, feed the chickens, gather the eggs, slop the hogs, and milk the cows, separate the milk, save the cream and then bucket feed the calves. Once in a while the weather or sickness kept us home and a phone call was made to tell the host of the problems.

Going to the Grandpa and Grandma Ulmers was also a big treat. These cousins we knew well as we were all neighbors. Often if snow was on the ground we would ride our sleds up and down the hill just south of our house. No gravel in those days and after a few vehicles would pack the snow it became slick and wow with talent we could go half way up the next hill. The problem was we had to walk back up the hill which created a huge appetite
Grandma’s molasses cookies were to die for, and Aunt Mildred Thacker’s raisin crème pie still gives me cause to find that recipe and make it. Always there was at least one or more baked chicken and dressing, with real homemade bread and home grown sage flavor. Lots of gravy to pour on the mashed potatoes and the dressing augmented with cranberry salad and buttered corn which was canned last summer. If it was a special good gardening year there would be cooked squash and various pickled beets or peaches. And always sweet and sour pickles.
Christmas time there was a native tree cut from the pasture. In later years the tree was purchased from the local grocery store or a tree grower. The decorations were often threaded popcorn, cranberries, and homemade stars and sometimes things we had made at school. In our home we still decorate the tree at Christmas with those special memories made by our daughters and proudly show to grandchildren.
One very special memory of my father, Berton Williamson was that he always bought several bushel of potatoes or apples and gave to the more unfortunate families of the neighborhood for their use at holiday time. Money was sent back east to the organizations which gave help to the poor in the cities that did not have families to help the children celebrate the season. Many of our neighbors did this from my memory and that added up to a tidy sum for helping the not so blessed.

Both on Thanksgiving and especially on Christmas an important part of the traditions were the attendance at the local church services. Always there was a huge tree cut and place up front in the church where Sunday School teachers could put little gifts for their young members and after the program it was exciting to see what was there. And great effort was made to get home after the service…get to bed so Santa could come during the night. It was forbidden to come down stairs early on Christmas morning. We were instructed to only come down when called. THAT way Santa had ample time to show up and put the gifts under the tree.

Daily before the special times of the season in our family it was the ceremony to get the mail and as a family at supper open the cards and letters read the notes and letters. This was a great way to teach the children who the special relatives and friends were and where they lived, etc. Cards were hung on a string and displayed in the living room and were shared with visitors. Messages often told of the writer’s family events both happy and sad. Wondering how many of you readers still follow these traditions? We do and we hold them sacred. Hope you do too! Remember do not overeat or there will be consequences. And we will see you at church to thank God for our blessings received in the past year!