Got the Christmas Tree

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, December 23, 1912: I got the Christmas tree this afternoon, nor did it take me long. Pass it along, Ruth has the pink eye, and now tis my turn to laugh. She looks so terrible funny. I know what it’s like, but I can’t keep from thinking what a joke it is on her.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Did Grandma go out into the woods on the farm by herself and cut a tree? I always picture tree cutting as a family project—but I guess that one person could do it by herself.

Interesting how people waited until the last-minute to get their tree a hundred years ago. They put candles on trees back then—and there was a real fire risk. So I suppose that they wanted a very fresh tree on Christmas day that might be less likely to catch fire.

Poor Ruth—she was Grandma’s older sister. It’s no fun to be sick during the holidays.  Pink eye was going through the family. Grandma had it on December 10 and their brother Jimmie had it on December 15.

9 Responses

  1. It does seem that a Christmas tree back then was for….Christmas…rather than the entire month.

  2. It’s so exciting to think of her getting her tree.

  3. A friend of mine from Maine was just here and he said he doesn’t know where that whole family gets the tree came from. His father just went out and got one. My husband used to cut down our tree and he would take the kids with him.

    We used to put our tree up sometime in the week before Christmas. I think most people did in the 1950s and maybe the 1970s. It was a tradition for many people to put the tree up on Christmas eve. We just put our tree up two days ago.

    That is a pretty mean remark about her sisters pink eye.

  4. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to celebrate Christmas as it was back then. At Christmas, not months before.

  5. When my mother was growing up in Germany in the 20′s and 30′s they still put candles on their trees and she told me they kept a bucket of water next to the tree just in case and they only lit the candles on Christmas eve. I wonder if that is what they did here too

  6. My mother (born 1905) often told about how excited they would be on Christmas Eve. Their father would cut the tree and bring it in and the parents decorated it with candles and glass ornaments and icicles, but the children did not see the tree until after their special Christmas supper on Christmas Eve, when the doors to the parlor were finally opened. Then they exchanged their gifts before going to Christmas Eve church service.

  7. It must have been quite a task for poor Helena to manage the cutting down and dragging home of a Christmas tree but she seems very pleased with herself, don’t you think? I hope she has an entry in her diary for Christmas day…. :)

  8. Your Grandma is a real ‘do it yourself’ girl, that’s awesome. I remember as a kid, we only put the tree up a couple of days before too. Then it was fresh for christmas day and by weeks end….out the front door it went.

  9. I thought the same thing, that they waited until the last minute. I thought about you tonight. I watched A Midwifes Tale. You have to see it, its a DVD from PBS about a midwife in the 18th century and a woman who studied her diary. Oh do watch it!!! ;-)

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