COBWEB CORNERS: When they made do with less
By Mel McFarland
Here we are at the end of the year, and here I am talking about the old days again! I want to start this by saying that I like to share these thoughts not because I think the old days were better, but because it helps us appreciate what we have.
Children over the years have hung up their stockings over fireplaces because they were used for heat! In an old newspaper I read the remembrances of some of the residents of early Colorado City, how putting up stockings was an important event for them. One remembered finding a big red apple in his stocking. Oh, what a treat - apples were not that easy to get.
Some of the businesses had trees in their windows. Most of the churches had trees too, but most homes did not. To get a nice pine tree you had to travel to the mountains. There were a few in the area, but they were too important to cut down. Most people created ribbons and garlands of pine boughs. It was easier to collect a few nice pine or spruce branches.
The decorations were often tiny candles, only lighted for short times. A few people could afford glass balls, but most made paper decorations. For presents, many of the boys received suspenders, neckties, boots and maybe toys; for the girls, new dresses, shoes and maybe dolls.
For a dinner on Christmas, buffalo, venison or maybe goose was the choice for the meat. The very fortunate may also have had cranberries. Some of the houses had bowls with varieties of nuts, walnuts, chestnuts and maybe even almonds. Sweet potatoes could be found, but not quite like we see them today. Sunday meals were special, but Christmas dinner was the most special of the year. If possible, families would travel many miles to gather.
In the earliest days, Christmas was a great break from just surviving. Once the railroad arrived, more things were available at Christmas, including greater food varieties, some of the latest clothing styles and toys. As Colorado City prospered in the 1880s, the holidays took on a different appearance. We might recognize the decorations in the stores along Colorado Avenue, but to the pioneers, those old Christmas memories were just as sweet.