Bob Mitchell: Modern times versus past Christmases

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The holiday originally set aside to recognize and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ is nothing like it was nearly eight decades ago when this country was wrapped deep in conducting its part of World War II.

In these modern times you would have thought the time to observe this special holiday has started several weeks ago.

There were commercial efforts before Thanksgiving that sent hordes of people virtually pounding down doors to get at awaiting 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 of 1943.

Today, the cautions of COVID virus pose problems of a pandemic that has brought death to this country like weíve never seen before.

Items not available then

Why these items were picked by one source isnít known, but it provides a good comparison of Christmas giving then and in some cases these days due to travel problems.

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. 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 that time could have been a carton of cigarettes or a pair of nylon stockings.


By contrast with today, travel for any distance wasnít sanctioned since gasoline and tires for autos of those days were rationed. That might be a good idea for these days. Thatís just a few 70 years in the past, in the 1940s.

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 only two gallons a week.

Now wouldnít that put a pinch in some travel or driving habits of today? But again, possibly needed.

Even here, there were a small few, when discovered as hoarders, left town to avoid humiliation. Vaccine for the v rus will be the potential product of these days. With the social distancing rules now, it makes good use of the Christmas card. 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 isnít well 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.

Itís reported that 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 greeting 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 of age. 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 waiting for coral singers.

Behind the primitive token, the simple personal message or the elaborate greeting card of today, lies manís 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 ó a Merry Christmas to you all!

Traditional Christmas at our house

An important factor in observing Christmas, as least at our household, has always been guided by the Bibleís 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, thatís 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 all of us far and wide

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!

This is a widespread greeting that begins in Colorado, moves to Kansas, drops down to Florida and then jumps back up to Washington, D.C., and eventually returning to Missouri.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State Universityís Regional Media Hall of Fame.