Before Vatican II the day before Christmas was a day of fast and abstance [sic, abstinence]so Christmas Eve for supper we had oyster stew. Then came Christmas Eve. The sheet was taken down between the living room (parlor as it was called) and dining room and we saw the Christmas tree for the first time.
Uncle Frank [Sanders] and his family and Uncle Al [Sanders] and family arrived and Grandma [Josephine (Uhlrich) Sanders] and Irene [Sanders] had gifts for everyone. A gift or two was held back for Eunice and me so we’d have something to open, too. There was lots of cookies and homemade candy to pass. Irene spent weeks making cookies for Christmas. One I remember so well was what was called an “ice box” cooky [sic]. We didn’t have an ice box so the dough was put on the back porch for 24 hours and the[n] cut and baked. They were cut sort of thick and was most delicious. The candy I remember most was divinity. There was also punch and fudge. It was prohibition times so no drinks were served. After Grandma’s house we went to Uncle Frank’s and saw their tree and again gifts for everyone. Both Frank and Al made home brew and wine so there were drinks for the men. Then the same procedure was done at Al Sander’s house. By that time the men were feeling no pain. I can’t remember but I don’t think Grandpa went with us. He was ill at the time and died following February. Bill and Irene weren’t married then and Bill got stoned, too [not drugged, but drunk]. Wine and beer is not a good combination. This alcohol was all homemade and packed a whollup. Irene was made at Bill for getting looped and I can’t remember if he made it home. He didn’t come back to Grandma’s so he could have stayed at Frank’s or Al’s.
The holidays was always a gathering of the clan. Thanksgiving everyone came to Grandma’s house for dinner at noon. Christmas we had dinner at Frank’s and New Years at Al’s. The thing that stands out in my memory was Christmas dinner at Frank’s and Irene’s. Al stood up to reach across the table to help one of the kids. A chair was needed somewhere so Irene Heitz saw an empty chair and took it. Before anyone could say anything, Uncle Al sat back down – no chair so he went clear to the floor. I don’t think I’d better put in here what he said. The house vibrated.
One Christmas Aunt Norma spent it with us. She played Santa Claus. The only part of a costume she had was a fall. For the S.C. suit she wore a brown bathrobe. Don Sanders was on the borderline of believing or not believing in Santa Claus. Christmas Eve he believed, but a few days later Aunt Norma was making the brown bathrobe over for me and Don, who was at Grandma’s most of the time saw the bathrobe that had been part of Santa Claus’ costume. Needless to say he was no longer a believer. His mother was very angry at Aunt Norma.
I don’t remember exactly how Easter was celebrated, but Grandma had an Easter next for all the grandchildren. We took boxes that weren’t too large and I put crepe paper around it and pasted it down. Stretched to top to make it fancy. Put in green shredded paper for the nest. Each nest got exactly the same thing even down to the jelly beans. Irene and I would count out the jelly beans and candy marshmallow eggs so that they were all alike because we knew the kids would check on it. Irene spent all Sat P.M. putting on the names with white frosting. I don’t know how many dozen hard boiled eggs we dyed, but they all came out beautiful. Also, in each nest was a candy rabbit. Eunice [her sister] and I saved our Easter baskets from one year to the next and we got a re-fill on those.
Bill was courting Irene so she always got a big 5# chocolate egg filled with the most wonderful orang colored filling I ever ate. Frank’s wife Irene [Ducinni] baked bread and one Easter morning she’d send up a pan of homemade rolls. It was depression years, but she always had something to share.
Aunt Norma always spent several weeks in the summer time with us. One summer she and Irene made a village set for under the Christmas tree. It was a church and a house inside a picket fence. The church was white with a steeple and a cross on top. Inside between the windows were pictures of the saints we cut out of Holy cards and glue to the walls. The windows were covered with colored paper from around candy bars – you could see through it. Outside were small figures of skaters, etc. We enjoyed this Christmas scene and had it for many years and I wonder now what happened to the house, church and fence.