Guest column: Christmas in a small town
For the Salisbury Post
I remember the holidays in my little home town in eastern Pennsylvania. The population numbered about 500, and what a carefree place it was to grow up.
I’m sure it didn’t snow every Christmas, but the times it snowed are some of my fondest memories.
There was the time the jingling of bells signaled a horse-drawn sleigh going past our front door on what was usually a heavily traveled highway between New York City and Chicago.
The thundering traffic noise had ceased for a while and the hushed stillness of the snow-covered landscape made a delightful change.
I also remember the many Christmas Eves when our Girl Scout troops went caroling in the snow.
It was our custom to go caroling immediately after the Christmas Eve church service at the local church.
We always went to every street in town (there were only five or six), and people would open their doors or upstairs windows if they were already in bed.
We would sing a few carols and wish each other a merry Christmas. Then later that night, when I was already in bed, the choir from the church would come caroling. It was such a heavenly sound in the clear, crisp night.
Whether it snowed or not, Santa always arrived at the the Town Square on Christmas morning to hand out oranges and candy to each child in the community.
Santa was always standing in the chimney which was mounted on a flatbed truck, and as you approached him, he gave you your goodies and a twinkle and a smile. That will never fade from my memory.
After we had our visit with Santa, we headed to my grandparents’ home for Christmas dinner. The menu (as well as I remember) consisted of roasted goose, chestnut stuffing, dried corn and mince pie.
In the parlor, which was usually off-limits, stood the cedar tree, and on it grandfather hung chocolate coins wrapped in a gold foil-like covering.
We were allowed to take these home and savor them for weeks.
Another Christmas that stands out was in 1944. Both of my older brothers were away fighting in WWII.
My grandmother, who was then a widow, lived with us. She joined my parents and me as the only ones to sit down for our Christmas dinner.
As we did, we noticed a soldier down at the corner waiting to hitch a ride.
That was common practice back then and served as a way for the men in the Armed Services to get home on furloughs.
We stepped outside and called to him to come and share our dinner with us. Perhaps he tells his grandchildren about that Christmas, too.
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