Christmas is a time filled with family traditions and decorations unique to every nationality and household. These traditions follow from one generation to the next, but how does Christmas today compare to Christmases long ago?
What will your Christmas morning look like? If you have children in your household, I imagine you'll have boxes and wrapping paper strewn around the sparkly Christmas tree. What kind of toys will they get? Probably they're either electronic, battery operated, or electric. Most of them will most likely made of plastic, also. Not so for toys from decades ago.
My mother reported to me that Christmas morning in the 30s was much different. She went to bed on Christmas Eve expecting Santa Claus to come. Until that time, the house wasn't decorated any different than any other day in the year. During the night, the Christmas tree magically appeared decorated with candied cherries, candy canes, colorful glass ornaments, and tinsel. They didn’t have electricity on the farm, so the tree didn’t have lights on it, but but the presents under the tree brought color to the room anyway.
What kind of toys would boys and girls have received during the 1930s? I think it’s safe to say they had fewer toys than children today. After all, it was the middle of the Depression. There wasn’t much extra cash for gifts.
Many toys back then were either made out of steel or wood. My father remembers getting tractors, and trucks, all made of steel. At least they lasted a long time that way. Over the years, he and his brothers had so many pieces of farm equipment, including a steel thrashing machine, that they could re-create a farm in their living room.
Of course, girls had baby dolls back then to care for. One memorable doll my mother received could close her eyes to “go to sleep”, drink water, and “wet her diaper”. That was the highlight of her childhood Christmas memories. Along with the baby doll, she had a rattan doll buggy. That buggy was passed down to her granddaughter many years ago.
We can’t forget about teddy bears, either. Many children had these toys given to them on Christmas Day. Some of the bears even had the mechanism to move their arms and legs.
Many a lucky girl received a Shirley Temple doll. Her movies were very popular back then.
There were a surprising number of toys manufactured during this era I recognized from my childhood – Tinker Toys, Erector sets, and Lincoln Logs. Are these toys still sold today? I have no idea.
There's one gift that's as timely today as it was decades ago, and will remain the most important thing to remember about Christmas. The main reason we celebrate this season is the birth of Jesus our Savior.