Grandparents remind us of season's meaning
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
The following article was originally published by Grand Junction Free Press on December 25, 2006.
We thought the best way to write about Christmas this year would be to talk to some of the people we know who have seen the most of them. Your junior author talked to his grandparents Otto Armstrong and Ila Eversol. Here are their holiday reflections.
Grandad stated the trend succinctly: "It changed from not having hardly any Christmas to having more than you need. We kids, we didn't have money for much Christmas. Now people have more money, and spend it." Grandad was born in 1924, just a few years before the start of the Great Depression.
He talked about the tree. "We had a Christmas tree. It wasn't too hard to get one of them, you just cut it. I think they were homemade decorations. Colored paper cut in strips, the ends glued together, and made into a chain, two or three different colors, and that was about it. I don't think we had any lights to begin with, because we didn't even have electricity then."
But, back when the family lived up Roan Creek, they did have traditional Christmas dinner with relatives, a few presents, and fruit and candy.
Grandma, born in 1929, didn't get electricity until her family moved from Silt to Palisade in 1935. She didn't have indoor plumbing until after she was married. She got television after her oldest daughter entered school.
She said, "I think Christmas meant a whole lot more to us when we were kids, even though we didn't have a whole lot."
She said of the first year in town, "I remember that Christmas we got rollerskates, the kind that you just hook onto your shoes. And we rollerskated all down those sidewalks all over town. We just loved them. I can remember that. That was a special thing."
Grandma continued, "One of the things I remember when I was in gradeschool -- they always had a tree uptown. Us little kids would always go up there, the last day before Christmas, and we'd sing Christmas carols around the tree. And then the Lions Club or somebody in the community would give you a sack of candy with maybe an orange, and candy and nuts, and boy that was a treat to us. Then we would go to church, and we'd have our Christmas program there, and they always gave us a sack of treats.
"Then usually, I can remember, we'd get maybe a couple of gifts from our folks. Then we would put up our stockings, which were our regular long stockings that we wore. And then they would put in candy and nuts and an orange and things like that. And that was what we had."
Throughout the year, "We'd sit around, our family, and we'd pop popcorn, and listen to the radio, and that was a special evening for us."
In the day "we were out playing, and jumping rope, and playing hide-and-go-seek. And then of course as we got older we always went hiking up in the mountains about every Saturday.
"I can remember when I was a kid we'd go to town once in a while, and we'd each get a nickel to buy candy. Well, of course you could buy quite a bit of candy with a nickel then, but we'd get our sack of candy and boy we'd pick it out very carefully to get what we wanted. And it lasted us for a while, and it was just so special. And nothing is special like that to kids anymore, which is kind of sad in a way.
"I think the main thing is, keep your values, remember what Christmas is all about, the birth of Christ, family... You don't have to buy gifts. It's being together as a family that's important, you know?
"I don't ever remember ever, ever in my life saying I was bored, like kids do nowadays. It's just, everything was special to us. And, of course, we were lucky. We had good parents. My dad worked hard, and my mother worked hard, and they gave us what we needed, and they gave us love. Of course, some kids don't have that, and that's sad. But I think it just goes to prove you don't need a lot of things to make you happy. That's not what makes you happy, really."
Grandma did admit that she now enjoys going shopping for new clothes. It's great to have wealth, and the more the better, so long as wealth is the servant and not the master. The point is to live a happy life filled with personal values and meaningful relationships, not merely to acquire a bunch of stuff. So this Christmas, reflect on the values of your life. Don't take things for granted, be it your wealth, your health, or your relationships with family and friends.