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Another Christmas season

Everywhere, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – with a jolly hello to Santa Claus and a bah humbug to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Signs of the holiday dominate the season. Lighted decorations hang on lamp posts in the central business districtboth Main and Hickory streets; a bright and colorful picture of Christmas is depicted by clever displays of merchandise and trappings in picture windows of retail shops; and busy shoppers fill the aisles of stores looking for bargains and waiting anxiously in lines to pay for their purchases.  

Finally, homes in neighborhoods are decked out in a wide variety of Christmas décor: white lights twinkling on decorated trees behind picture windows, shrubbery and outdoor tree shapes trimmed in multi-colored lights and winter character blow-ups standing tall on front lawns waving to passersby. 

As I witness the holiday glitter and the gift-buying shopping rush, I am reminded of how much the Christmas season has changed in my lifetime.  

The lifestyle of our farm family in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s was the same in January as it was in December.  

As sharecroppers, money was always scarce. Most of our income came from a share of cotton and corn crops. My father supplemented the family income by growing and peddling garden and livestock products and cutting firewood for cook stoves and fireplaces. 

Gifts were downplayed as far as my siblings and me were concerned; however, we wore out the pages of a Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalog. We’d spend hours looking at pictures of the toys and making our own gift wish lists.  

The gifts we had under the tree seldom lived up to our highest expectations, but we were always thankful for the small, inexpensive gifts we received along with a handful of fruit, nuts and candy. 

The main focus of the holiday was on the birth of Jesus Christ. Most rural families were involved in regular worship at a community church and gave strong support to activities related to the birth of the Christ child.  

The Biblical story of the birth of Jesus was portrayed annually during the Christmas season, with children playing the roles of the characters involved, and each received an inexpensive gift from the church.