At first, Christmas trees were small and stood on a table. The father carefully picked out the best tree, chopped it down and took it home. Setting up the tree was called "planting" it and decorating the tree was called "dressing it".
It was a happy time for children. The Christmas tree was decorated with small toys, candies, cookies, fruit and nuts, paper cutouts, popcorn strings and candles. Before electricity, trees had candles. Lighting the candles was an adult's job and a bucket of water was always kept close by. Candles were probably lit only once or twice.
Stockings were hung by the fireplace. Children could hardly wait to see what Santa had left in their stockings .
Christmas was a time for families to get together. On Christmas day, the father usually handed out the gifts. Many of the gifts were home made. Children would make gifts for father (scarf, socks), mother (embroidered handkerchief, pincushion), brothers (top, mittens), sisters (bookmarks) and grandparents (fudge).
A hobby horse was a popular gift for both boys and girls.
One of the presents would likely be a handmade sled. Children would anxiously wait for the chance to test out their new sled .
Dads often spent many hours carving toy animals for their children.
Girls would be given dolls, homemade cradles, and handsewn blankets and doll clothes. Furniture, such as a rocker, were also homemade.
Later when more stores opened, people would buy gifts like dolls, doll houses, tea sets and sewing kits for the girls. For the boys. they would buy farm sets, train sets, rocking horses, toy guns and toy soldiers.
The parlour was where the family and guests gathered to celebrate. After the gifts were opened, the rest of the day was for games and activities for the whole family. There was lots of good food to eat. If the weather was nice, they would go skating, sledding or have a snowball fight.
Calling on the neighbors and caroling was also done during the Christmas season. When people went out visiting, homemade gifts were given to the hosts.
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