The week between Christmas and the New Year was a time for visiting when I was a child. I’m not sure how the planning was done, or if there was planning, but we went to visit friends and relatives and they came to visit us. During the day we went to see their trees and the gifts our friends received. In the evenings we might go to visit friends of our parents.
Every family served the fancy Christmas cookies that they had baked. Most families had candies or fudge too. We were often served sodas, as a special treat as we didn’t get them on a regular basis. My favorite was Mint Ginger Ale. We got our supply from Artie Kraus who owned the general store in Marwood. The ginger ale had a distinct mint flavor and a beautiful green color. Since nobody outside of the Pittsburgh area seems to have heard of it, I believe it was a local product. Adults were served wine or beer. The women, as I remember, usually drank sweet wine and the men beer.
As a teen, I especially loved going to the Follsteadt home. Marie made wine spritzers for us. She put a little sweet wine in the ginger ale (not the mint variety) and served it to us. There was only a little wine, but it made a very pretty drink.
Back then, Christmas trees were not the perfectly shaped trees that you see today. Many were just trees cut from local farms. Our tree was always a spruce but many people used pines. Bubble lights were popular. Everyone draped silver tinsel on the trees while the very tops had a star or angel. Some people had strings of glass beads around the tree. Most ornaments were made from delicate glass but there were a few of plastic.
Many people had villages under the tree with a train. I still have the train that ran under our tree and the village to go with it. Today my village has grown so large that I’ve loaned it to a local transportation museum since I don’t have enough space to display it. This way it is on display all year and many people get to enjoy it.
This last week of the year, a week of visiting, seems to have disappeared as most women now work outside the home and don’t have the time to spend visiting their friends and family. Families also are more likely to be separated by many miles but back then, it was a custom that helped build our community.