Lots of bloggers these days are putting up holiday-themed posts. Indeed, the most recent Carnival of Genealogy is devoted to holiday traditions. Although I missed the Carnival, here is a guest post by my late grandmother, Ellen Lauritsen Andersen, describing Christmas memories from her childhood on the small Danish island of Aero 100 years ago:
“Families do a lot of baking before Christmas. About 2 weeks before Christmas, stores in our town opened with new toys on a Sunday afternoon. We could hardly wait so we could go and see what’s new because we could not buy, we didn’t have any money.
“On the 23rd we called it little Christmas Eve. Mother made ableskiver. She sat by a stove burning wood & sticks. At Christmas we put prunes in ableskiver. She also made klejner.
“On Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. we children went with (our parents) to church, just about the only time small children went. I remember the pews were made double, we kids were sitting across face to face to our parents.
“Usually mother put up and decorated our tree, put real candles on it. Then after church, Dad does the chores, feed the cows, milk, etc. (First we eat, usually goose, a very swell dinner, applecake). Then Dad does chores and we do the dishes.
“Mother and Dad went in the other room to light the Christmas tree and we don’t see it until it is lit. We all go in and walk around it and sing Christmas carols. Then we kids blew out the candles and we went into the dining room to get our gifts, small, but oh so welcome.
“We were so happy, getting just one orange. I remember we took the orange to bed with us so nobody else got it away from us. Mother had a sack of hard candy. She would sit and divide it in 8 till there was about a dozen pieces for each of us kids and we really thought we had something swell.
“I remember my first and only doll I ever had. My sister Marie and I. It was beautiful. It was about 12 inches and one was dressed in blue and one in pink.”
Photo: Ellen Lauritsen Andersen (holding baby) sings Christmas carols with her American family in 1966. (Walter B. Lehmer collection).