Ozarks Viewpoints

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas

The Christmas holiday that was originally set aside to recognize and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ is nothing like it was seven decades ago when this country was deeply involved in conducting its part of World War II. In these modern times, you would have thought the time to observe this special holiday started several weeks ago.

There were commercial efforts before Thanksgiving that sent hordes of people virtually pounding down doors to get at waiting merchandise. While viewing all this for a very short time, thoughts came to mind about what was not available for Christmas shoppers in the early days in 1943.

Not available

Why these items were picked by one source isn't known, but it provides a good comparison of Christmas giving then and now.

You could not get a beer mug, bird cage, cocktail shakers, radios, doll carriages, rubber boots, bicycles or tricycles, typewriters, griddles, roasters, hair curlers, photographs, alarm clocks or balls that bounce. America's Armed Forces were fighting overseas and needed all the metal, rubber, chemicals and food they could get.

Decorations for trees or homes were not available, probably accounting for the popularity of stringing popcorn for hanging on a cedar tree. According to some statistics, the most sought-after gifts of the time could have been a carton of cigarettes or a pair of nylon stockings.

Travel

By contrast with today, travel for any distances wasn't sanctioned since gasoline and tires for autos of those days were rationed. Gasoline cards were issued with essential workers rating an A-card, which meant they were allocated three gallons a week. Most others received a B-card or maybe a C-card, which entitled them to a fill up of two gallons a week. Now wouldn't that put a pinch in some travel or driving habits of today?

Even in small communities such as Cassville, there were bartering and black market activities by those who weren't content to go along with the rules.

These are just a few of the difficulties that faced Americans in times past. Today's productivity makes conditions different, probably in part to what Christmas is all about.

Contact friends

This time of the year is possibly the most appropriate to contact friends or maybe even relatives that haven't been contacted recently, which makes good use of Christmas cards. Most people choose a type that recognizes the birth of Jesus Christ, and the special meanings that the season sets forth. Getting away from this theme isn't accepted by many folks these days.

This exchange of greetings between friends is as old as mankind. Research into the history of the practice, which led gradually to our modern Christmas Card, reveals a fascinating story of the social customs of other times and races.

Prehistoric man left a flower or bright feather at the entrance to a primitive cave or carved a message on a piece of tree bark.

First cards

The first Christmas greeting card, according to some sources through a British museum, was a card designed and etched in 1842 by a youth of 16 years old. The reproduction provides a unique and detailed study of English social customs of the period. There was a dinner party in progress, a Punch and Judy show; distribution of soup to the needy at the house door; skating on the ponds and a glimpse of the playing and coral singers.

Behind the primitive token, the simple personal message or the elaborate greeting cards of today, lies man's wish to express something of the warmth within him to those who have helped him on his way. And the friendly, simple words each year take on a new and deeper meaning...A Merry Christmas to you all!

Merry Christmas

An important factor in observing Christmas, as least at our household, has always been guided by the Bible's account of the arrival of the Savior, Jesus Christ, on this earth. Tracing his arrival under meager conditions, his life of teaching the Word of God. and eventually his death on the cross that all men could have their sins washed away, is a permanent agenda at Christmas time, that's our right as a free nation.

Your choice of the method of observing this, the most holy of holidays, is exactly that, a decision that must be made by each individual. As for me and my house, we will follow the tradition and enjoy the season.

From us

As is traditional, from all the Mitchell family, as widespread as they might be, our hope for each and every one of you is the most Merry Christmas of your lifetime. Hopefully, your Christmas will be one of the best ever!

It's a widespread greeting that might begin in Colorado, move to Kansas, drop down to Florida and then jump back up to Washington, D. C., before returning eventually to Missouri.