Sutton Massachusetts

Sutton Histories
Christmas in Massachusetts During the Depression [1930s]

Glenadine grew up around Boston, the daughter of a minister. She moved to Sutton when she was an adult

As far as our Christmas' were concerned, we didn't have too much. We were a ministers family, at that time ministers didn't make the salary that they make today. And when we were in Medford, we were in the Depression. Our Christmases were very, very small. They furnished the parsonage for us to live in. And at Christmas - we always had a Christmas - but before the Christmas Tree went up our folks always had the creche, and I do to this day.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the beginning of Advent and we put our creche up and to this day I have my grandchildren come to this house and we tell the story of the birth of Christ and we put the figures on the creche so they know just what it is. And my Christmas at home was we had a small Christmas most of the things came from NM Industries. I have to this day a table that my folks got that was a present to us from Santa Claus but it was a table and chairs that came out of NM and I still have that table. I can remember distinctly - I had a sister that was just 3 years younger than I was - and my mother had got 2 dolls from NM Industries, they were alike. and that was our Christmas present was one year. And the following Christmas we never got a new doll - we got the same doll - but my mother sewed - and every year my mother made 2-3 outfits for that doll and that was our Christmas present.

As I say we, had slim pickings for Christmas. During the depression we had not much of anything. The parishioners brought to us, they gave us clothing and fortunately my mother was able to sew, and she made other things, we'd have those things that she made, we'd have Christmas presents for our clothing, nothing very much. But I will say this, the day of Christmas when we went down to see Santa Claus, to see what he brought to us, we would have those, and celebrate around the tree, then my dad would sit down and read from the Bible the birth of Christ, we'd have what we called our prayers. Then because we didn't have a car, the Vice President that worked with Dr Helms, lived in the Lucy Stone home in Dorcester, I was going to look up what Lucy Stone did, I think she was an activist or something, this family lived in the Lucy Stone home and they had a car and would come out and get us, because dad had worked with him at Morgan Memorial and the Church of All Nations and he would come out and take our family which was - our sister and I and mother and father - and we would go to their home and spend the rest of the day of Christmas. So and sometimes we'd stay over, they'd play cards, and we'd be allowed to stay overnight. ...

It was pretty rough when we were small. Parishioners were the ones that would help us because we didn't have very much. Those are the things that I can remember.

>Do you remember what the tree was like?

It was very slim. My mother would make different decorations to put on it, we did have lights on it, but we didn't have the candles, my mother was too frightened of them burning. It was always a small tree. We always had a tree, and we always had a creche.

>Did you hang stockings?

Oh yes, we had stockings, little ones. And it was mainly clothes.

There was one night, to this day I remember it, I actually got up, I thought I heard Santa Claus come in. We didn't have a chimney, we didn't have a fireplace, I was probably 5 or 6 years old and I thought I heard SC and I actually got up and I ran out the door to see if he'd come in. I've never forgotten it.

>Did you leave out milk and cookies for Santa Claus?

Yeah, we did, but we didn't have the cookies, we left him crackers. And I'd seen the day, not related to Christmas or anything, but I've seen the day when my mother only gave us crackers with egg white, cooked on the stove, and that was our meal for the day. In those days we didn't have that much. But we were a happy family! I'm very thankful for that.

> [tell us more about Christmas]

We celebrate Advent in our family. If you go by my house at nighttime it's all lit up. That is part of our Advent. It's the story of Christ, there's a real meaning to it. It's the preparation for the coming of Christ. The waiting for Jesus Christ to come. That's why we celebrate Advent. We don't celebrate just Christmas day. We celebrate the season of advent, and when you carry it through to Epiphany. It's the 6th of January, and it's when the Kings arrive, and that's when there really is a completion of the Christmas season.

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