A view of some past Christmases

'Tis the season to be jolly and I'm one of those people who loves the whole concept of decorating, cooking, singing and family that goes with the Christmas season. I grew up during the Depression years when there wasn't any money to buy anything but food and lodging. Christmas was limited to good cheer and a warm house. If we had a Christmas tree, it was decorated with paper chains we made at school. My mother kept and used them year after year. If there was a present, it was usually a stocking with nuts, candy and that ever-lovely big orange we kids looked forward to eating. And then too, it was about the birth of the baby Jesus, which we celebrated.

In the Emma Nevada Loftus diaries, it is apparent that the little town of Dayton had its celebrations. She tells of the school decorating a Christmas tree located where the whole community turned out to watch the children receive presents from Santa. No child went without a gift.

Then, Emma tells about her Christmas shopping tours to Reno where she traveled to find just the right gifts for those she loved. Later, many hours were spent wrapping presents, making sure nobody saw what she was doing.

Early Christmas Eve, Emma and her son Chester delivered presents around Dayton to the people who were part of Emma's life and to folks in need. Later on, Emma acted as Mrs. Santa, handing out presents at home. Even throughout the Depression, she managed to distribute gifts around town. She was so well-loved that she received 300 or more greeting cards annually. She carefully packaged them after Christmas to send them to the Shriner's Hospital for the crippled children. I remember people doing that.

Now, I'd like to let you think I walked a mile barefoot through the snow to get to school but that would be stretching the truth. It is best I just wish all of you a very best of the season and during the coming New Year.

-- Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the Dayton Museum.


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