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Kids’ Christmas wishes: 1913 December 18, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. If you’re drowning in sticker shock this Christmas over your kids’ demands for the latest iPad, Xbox, designer gear, and so on, you might wonder what life was like in a happier, simpler, less materialistic time. Fortunately, thanks to a website called MyHeritage, we can time-travel back and find out.

The website has an archive of newspapers dating back to the early 1600s, but let’s limit our search to exactly 100 Christmases ago. The year was 1913, and parents loved to send their children’s “Dear Santa” letters to the local paper for publication. As a result, MyHeritage was able to compile a list of the top ten most-requested Christmas gifts for the year. Here they are, from the #1 to the #10 request:

Candy
Nuts
Rocking horse
Doll
Mittens/gloves
Toy train
Oranges
Books
Handkerchiefs*
Skates

* Thank God for Kleenex, invented in 1924.

In that day, Christmas stockings were typically stuffed with an orange in the toe and nuts and candy in the leg of the stocking. Lucky kids received peppermint sticks in their stockings. They would mash up their orange to make it juicy, cut a hole in one end, and insert a peppermint stick, then suck the orange juice out of the stick as though it were a straw. This was considered a huge treat. (Poor kids had to make do with apples, homemade molasses candy or maple sugar candy, and nuts gleaned from the woods.)

While younger children might indeed get dolls, rocking horses, and toy trains, older children could wish for books, sewing kits, sheet music, and paint sets. Mittens and gloves, socks and stockings, scarves and caps, handkerchiefs, and sturdy boots were probably as much anticipated as Great-Aunt Ethel’s hideous Christmas sweaters are today, but they were desperately needed, given the lack of heating in outdoor transport and the number of children who walked to school.

Our friend Ben and I are still fans of the old, simple toys. We just sent our four-year-old nephew a set of all-wood “Lincoln Logs,” and our neice a marble solitaire set. OFB and I both still love playing with them, and with Monopoly and many another old game. We’d love to wake up on Christmas morning to find our stockings filled with our favorite nostalgic candies and nuts and dried fruits and cheese. OFB has hinted that he’d really appreciate some high-quality socks, and I asked Santa to bring me a nice flannel bathrobe this year.

Like the children of 1913, we believe that asking for some simple indulgences and a few things we actually need is the formula for a very merry Christmas.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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