Just my cup of tea

Originally ran in the Dec. 22, 1971 edition of the Illinois Valley News

Two proud grandmothers have reported grandchildren born in December, one a boy, and the other a girl.
Danny Joel, son of Marlan and Opal Deaton, live in Portoles, New Mexico, was born Dec. 12. He weighed 9 lbs. 2 oz. Danny has a sister and two brothers, Marian, Lloyd, and Phillip. His grandparents are Brent and Dora Deaton of Takilma Road.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Montero, who make their home in Mountain View, California, are the parents of a girl, Angelina Ann, who weighed 6 lbs. 14 oz., and is their first child. The grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. George Johnson of Cave Junction. The Johnsons also have two grandsons.
Recent visitors at the home of Jim and Vi Higgins were his sister, Edith Woodridge, her daughter and son-in-law, Linda and Lowe, and their son Monte. It was their first visit to the Valley, in fact the first time they had had ever crossed the Oregon Line. They reside in Eureka, California.
My Sunday afternoons are usually spent having Sunday School for my friends, the boys at the James Boys’ Farm Home on Holland Loop Road. On December 12th, instead of the usual Bible time hours, I had special Christmas records, which told of the Christ Childs’ birth beautifully in story, music, and song. I had to have it early, as many of the boys were leaving for their Christmas vacations. About 20 boys left for home, and were just as excited about going home as any boy away at boarding school would. For 20 years or more, Mrs. Leta James has taken a number on the bus, and their parents meet them in Eugene, Salem, and other cities, while parents living farther than Portland meet their children there. When vacation time is over, Mrs. James takes the bus trip and brings them all back to the Home again.
Before they left on vacation, the boys were given several parties. On December 11th, Ernestine Pullen’s Brownie troop came and sang and brought a pinata filled with candy. The boys enjoyed the group of carolers who sang for them while standing on the lawn of the Home. Another party was the telephone girls from Medford, who give the boys a party every year. They came the evening of December 10th. Rhey brought nice gifts for the boys, and useful gifts for the Home, such as sheets and towels, and also furnished the turkey for Christmas dinner. A group from Central Point and Ashland also brought gifts for the boys at the Home. Their leader is Mrs. Tommy Smith, who is a former resident of the Valley. A number of years ago, her husband was the football coach at IVHS. The waitresses from Mon Desir sent a small chord organ for the Home, gifted by Mrs. Tommie Smith. While all of the boys were still home, they had their own party and gift exchange, with all of them receiving a nice gift and a bag of candy.
There were about 16 boys left at the Home who did not go away for vacation, but Mrs. Pearl Rossiter and Mrs. James always give them a good time too. One of the nice things they get to do is go to Grants Pass every year to see Christmas Tree Lane, hear the Christmas music played there, and to see the other beautifully decorated homes.
Christmas, soon after the turn of the century, was quite different in the Valley than it is now. There were no gala shopping sprees, no cars to visit distant relatives, and no TV’s to wile the hours away. People had to make their own fun, because there was no other entertainment. During the year, there were box socials, 4th of July picnics, and Christmas time church programs.
Sophia Bunch remembers that when she was a small child, there was always a public Christmas tree and program at the Althouse Church, now the Bridgeview Community Church. Someone went around to the different families and collected money, (probably only a few cents from each family, because no one had much money those days) to buy treats for the children. Families came by horse and buggy from all around. Each child received candy and a small gift.
As Sophia and others have told me, in those early years, there was not much money, but the parents saved what little they could, and perhaps buy an orange, a ball, or a jack knife as gifts. One Christmmas, there were no gifts for a family of five children. However, a kind neighbor brought five sacks of candy. The neighbor did not think the youngest, little Patty, was old enough to know about Christmas or candy. Patty’s eyes grew big with anticipation of her gift. The brothers and sister looked at each other, then quickly opened their sacks. In the top of each sack was a little candy mouse, which they gave to their little sister. Patty is a grandmother now, but she remembers the thrill of that gift–FOUR little pink candy mice–what a wonderful Christmas! Do we and our children appreciate the bountiful gifts we receive?
A few days ago, I stopped at Forest Lodge for an afternoon cup of tea. While there, I asked owner Karl Schultz what Christmas was like in Germany, He said he did not know what it is like now, but when he was a little boy in Frankfurt, his mother always put the Christmas tree up on the afternoon of December 24th, never before or after the 25th. None of the children ever saw the tree until 6 in the evening, when their mother let them all troup in and there was a small gift for each one. The children sang “Silent Night” and “O, Tannenbaum” while standing in front of the tree. Then came the big dinner with all of the relatives there. Their main entree was not turkey, but a big goose served with cabbage and other favorite German dishes.