While we’re ordering our holiday gifts online today because of Cyber Monday sales, I can’t help but think of the contrast of now, versus 150 years ago, when Kansas was being homesteaded by pioneers of several different nationalities.
Think how simple and thankful the pioneers were for their holidays and gift giving. When you read the diary entries from Butter in the Well, you’ll see what I mean…
“November 26, 1868
We celebrated the American holiday called Thanksgiving with the Robinsons today. We were thankful to be asked to their home. They live in a dugout too, but have two rooms and real furniture. Benjamin had shot a turkey down near their bend of the river. He said that turkey is the traditional meat for the Thanksgiving meal back East. But Adelaide also fixed venison, potatoes, creamed hominy corn, pickled beets, fresh wheat bread (I had two thick slices) and dried currant pie. Since she has a cow, we also enjoyed fresh butter and cheese. Adelaide sent home a wedge of cheese and a loaf of bread. She is so thoughtful.
December 9, 1868
Since Carl is spending most of his time inside now that it is cold, he has been carving. He has made some wooden spoons and small bowls for me, and tool handles for himself. He carved a doll’s head and I added a little body for it out of one of Christina’s first dresses. It will be her Christmas present.
Carl bought a two-lidded stove in Salina this month to heat the dugout and so I could do some of my cooking inside. It is a very small second-hand stove, but better than cooking everything outside.
Since the days are shorter and sometimes overcast, we need more light in the dugout. Rather than use up the supply of candles, we are burning a plate of tallow, using a piece of twisted cloth as the wick, or burning the tail feathers of ducks geese. I don’t care for the smell of singed feathers, but I have to use what we’ve got.”
(Excerpts from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)
Gifts were given and received, be it food or a hand-carved item, with thought and love back then. And, actually we’re still doing the same things now, only with a different means of obtaining them.
Have fun today as you think of Christmas gifts to give to others. Will you hand make some items this year, or order them online?
P.S. If you’d like to read more about these Kansas pioneers, or would like to give them as a holiday gifts, the Kindle and Nook ebooks are on sale this month as Butterfield Books Inc.’s Cyber Monday special. Or, you can buy autographed books on my website, where you always get free shipping. Happy Shopping and Giving!