Christmas Table Decorations and Centerpieces a Hundred Years Ago

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

Wednesday, December 25, 1912:  Xmas: I got a few presents: a purse, one dollar, an apron, a pinholder, a book, a bow, and a pair of slippers. Aunt Lizzie and Uncle George were here and Mrs. Besse to be sure.

We had a turkey and some ice cream. At present I feel like a stuffed toad from too much gourmandizing of a lot of good things. Guess I may call my Christmas a happy one and hoping everyone else has enjoyed the same likewise I’ll bring my entry to a close.

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Click on picture to enlarge. Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

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

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Grandma got the De Luxe slippers in her favorite color. :)

slipper a hundred years ago

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

Nice gifts, good food, family. . . It sounds like end of a perfect Christmas day.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!DSC06819.crop

 

Christmas Tree Decorations A Hundred Years Ago

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

Tuesday, December 24, 1912:  Cleaned this morning. Trimmed the tree this evening and await the coming of tomorrow’s dawn impatience.

1912 Christmas treeLightweight glass balls on tinsel strands gives the effect.

Ladies Home Journal (December, 1911)

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

It’s almost Christmas!

What did the Muffly’s trimmed tree look like?

1912 Christmas treeThe butterflies are of spun glass in myriad colors and marking. The birds are lifelike celluloid models.

Christmas tree a hundred years agoThe tree of snow is the latest contribution to the science of Christmas festivities. The tree is bleached white, made fireproof, and chemically preserved so that it can be used year after year, thereby aiding the campaign against the devastation of our evergreens. The decorations of rose garlands is as unusual as the tree, and the crimson of the flowers forms a brilliant contrast to the dazzling whiteness.

Ladies Home Journal (December, 1911)

Who would have guessed that some people had reusable trees a hundred years ago!!

Christmas Songs and Carols A Hundred Years Ago

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

Sunday, December 8, 1912:  Didn’t go to Sunday School this morning, partly because I didn’t think it would be very good for me to go out today.

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Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1911)

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

Sounds like Grandma still wasn’t feeling very well. Hope she gets better soon. Since she didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share a list of winter and Christmas songs that was in an old Ladies Home Journal magazine.

MUSIC FOR THE SEASONS

Winter

  • Snow Man
  • When the Snow is on the Ground
  • Jack Frost
  • Tracks in the Snow
  • Snow Flakes
  • Coasting
  • Winter Jewels
  • Snowballs
  • Sleighing Song
  • Little White Feathers
  • Jacky Frost

Christmas

  • Old Santa Claus
  • Once a Little Baby
  • Once Unto the Shepherds
  • In Bethlehem Stable
  • The First Christmas
  • Christmas Carol
  • A Christmas Song
  • Carol, Brother, Carol
  • Christmas Day in the Morning
  • Christmas Eve
  • O! Holy Night
  • Silent Night
  • Holy Night; Holy Child
  • Carol, Children, Carol
  • Martin Luther Christmas Carol
  • While Shepherds Watched
  • While Stars of Christmas Shine
  • The First Christmas Song
  • The First Christmas
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Santa Claus
  • Do You Believe in Santa Claus?
  • A Christmas Party
  • The Christmas Tree

Ladies Home Journal (December, 1913)

Whew, it’s astonishing how few of the songs I know. I would have guessed that Christmas carols hadn’t changed much across the years. Though—now that I’m looking more carefully at the list— I realize that some of the songs might be the same, just the names have changed.

1912 Christmas Decorating Idea: Wreathes and Garlands

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

Thursday, December 5, 1912:  Around the same as Dec. 3.

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

The December 3 diary entry said, “Nothing much to write.” I guess that it was a slow day around the Muffly house.

Since Grandma didn’t write much I’ll share some holiday decorating ideas from the December 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal .

Thanksgiving Day, 1912

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

Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1912:  Yesterday thought perhaps I’d go up to McEwensville for my dinner, but then I changed my mind as I didn’t think I could afford it. Besse was out this afternoon. I actually believe that I am getting a rather bad cold.

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

This entry suggests that a Thanksgiving feast may have been held (minus Grandma) in McEwensville. Was it a fundraiser? . . . for the school? . . . or maybe the volunteer fire department . . . or a church?

Was the feast held at the McEwensville Community Hall?  The community hall has  existed for more a hundred years ago–and I don’t think that it’s changed much over the years.

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I can almost picture gaily chatting women, men and children in old-fashioned clothes sitting at long tables laden with turkey, giblet stuffing, homemade gravy, mashed potatoes, and lots of pies–apple, pumpkin, minced meat, mock cherry. . .

It doesn’t sound as if the Muffly family ended up doing very much  to  celebrate the holiday—though they must have had a small celebration since Grandma’s married sister Besse Hester came out from nearby Watsontown.

Grandma’s mother probably still is not feeling well. The previous day Grandma wrote:

Guess we aren’t going to have much of a Thanksgiving tomorrow cause Ma is sick and we haven’t got a turkey.

It’s been a rough November in the Muffly family. Her little brother Jimmie missed school on November 19 because he was sick; then her mother was sick—and now it sounds like Grandma may have caught the same thing.

Hundred-Year-Old Thanksgiving Poem

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

Wednesday, November 27, 1912:  Guess we aren’t going to have much of a Thanksgiving tomorrow cause Ma is sick and we haven’t got a turkey.

Recent fall photo of fields on the farm where the Muffly’s once lived.

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

Dang it—Thanksgiving was a week later in 1912 than it was in 2012.

From a blog post perspective, it works much better when the dates of holidays are the same for both years—and floating holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving are problematic.

This year Thanksgiving is history—and we’ve moved past Black Friday and Cyber Monday to holiday parties and decorating Christmas trees . But, on the off-chance that you’re willing to read about Thanksgiving at this late date, here is a lovely  Thanksgiving poem that was in the November, 1912 issue of Farm Journal.

Our Thanksgiving Day

By Emma A. Lente

The harvests yielded bounteous store,

In spite of all our trembling fears

Lest this, from drought and storms, might be

One of the fruitless, barren years.

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But kindly sun and rain and dew

Have ministered to all our need

The fertile earth has given full store

Her countless multitudes to feed.

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No pestilence has stormed our shores,

No wars have racked our hearts with fears;

Strength have been given for minor ills

And smiles have followed transient tears.

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So, let us render fervent thanks

For sheltering homes, and kindred dear,

And say with heartfelt gratitude:

“This year has been a goodly year.”

100-Year-Old Halloween Costumes

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

Thursday, October 31, 1912:  And this is Halloween. What a pity it is that I’m not out having a good time, and I’ve never had that pleasure either.

Witch (Source: Ladies Home Journal, July, 1912)

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

Poor Grandma—It’s too bad that she missed all the fun. I’d be bummed, too.

Here’s what was happening in nearby Milton on Halloween, 1912:

HALLOWEEN PARTIES AND MASQUERADERS MADE NIGHT GAY

Young Folks and Old Enjoyed Selves in Various Ways

Streets Were Filled with Merrymakers

Milton was the scene of high carnival last night. Chattering and laughing, it was a merry throng that wandered up and down the length of Broadway and Front last night for hours attired in costumes that represented every character and nation under the sun, and in some costumes that didn’t represent anything in particular. . .

Milton Evening Standard (November 1, 1912)

Recent photo of Broadway and Front Streets, Milton The street is generally very quiet now. Imagine what it was like a hundred years ago with masqueraders parading through the downtown.

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