This comes from the
1894 diary of my great aunt, who lived at Princess Anne, MD. I've spent the last
few months going through old photos from albums sent by many cousins,
desperately trying to identify all the aunts, uncles and cousins who were living
about this time. In 1894, there were big doin's at Aunt Ida's house as her
sister, Stelle, was married on December 12. Since all the family came in for the
wedding from around the shore and Philadelphia, the big gathering was a couple
weeks before Christmas.
I don't wonder now why everyone in these old photos didn't look like they
were starving. Here's the menu for the family gathering before the wedding
(which Aunt Ida called "supper" in her diary): oysters on half shell,
cold turkey, sliced tongue, chicken salad, warm rolls, crackers, bread sticks,
olives, pickles, jelly, chocolate, coffee, almond cake, fruit cake, orange cake,
perfection cake, Minnehaha cake and vanilla cream.
Ida had a house full of guests through December 15 when the Philladelphia
relatives went back, but the newly-weds came back on the 24th for the holidays
before they moved to their new residence in Crisfield.
Here's a bit from Aunt Ida's diary during the holidays....
Tuesday, December 25, 1894, Christmas day. Daisy & Louise took dinner
with us. Fillmore gave me my sapphire ring, and Hattie a beautiful Jardiniere.
Willie Lankford sent me two china baskets, and I certainly appreciate them.
Thursday, December 27, 1894, We had our Christmas entertainment this evening.
Monday, December 31, 1894, Stelle left today for her new home. Mary Stewart
and Ray Stewart here. Mr. Lankford & Harry went to Watch meeting.
For a little comparison, I've got the diary of my great great grandfather who
was 20 years old in Maine in 1839. He kept a diary and rarely missed a
day--although he very often just wrote a word or two. Every Sunday, he went to
"meeting" and when on shipboard he noted every Sunday and vespers, but
on December 25, 1839, he went to work at Morton & Bartlett store in Augusta,
ME. By 1840, he was on board a ship which ran from Augusta, ME to the Bahama
Banks and Cuba hauling cotton, board and hay. The ship left Bath, ME Dec. 10 and
from the 13th to the 24th of December, he noted weather of snow, rain, squalling
wind, and heavy sea. On December 25, 1840, Azra Harris Hayward wrote: very
pleasant course south about 8 days out from the Apalachicola light.....not even
a hint that it was Christmas either time.
From the recesses of my murky mind comes a Christmas tradition that ended
with my grandparents. My folks never did it 'cause we were always at the
grandfolks; I never have, (but now that I remember it, this year I might
--although I might have to check out the Dollar Store). I know it came through
my grandfather's Porter family from Somerset, went with members of that family
to Philadelphia and with him to DC where my grandmother adopted it for her
family. The table centerpiece consisted of small, wrapped gifts tied in bows,
with the ribbon from each little package running to the place setting for each
guest, where a gift card at the end of the ribbon marked each place. The huge
table with all the leaves in it welcomed every relative who could get there.
After the blessing and while granddaddy carved the turkey, all the guests gently
pulled their ribbon and retrieved their gift. The little boxes held items such
as tie tacks, lapel pins, hat pins or sometimes handkerchiefs and the children
usually got a little necklace or tiny china animal.