Christmas at Gramp’s Old School

Christmas comes to Gramp’s Old SchoolIMG_3645
It’s the holiday season! I’m totally distracted and unfocused, and it SNOWED!!!! This is  our second winter in Upstate New York after 10 years on the coast in North Carolina, where it never snowed. I got a little over excited and thought I’d share a bit of Christmas cheer on the blog!

Vintage Christmas Cards
We found quite a few vintage Christmas cards in the school when we were clearing it out. Some of them were filled out, but most of them were blank. Gramp thinks maybe the students sold them as some kind of fundraiser. They’re in rough shape but I really love them. Check it out!

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This is Gramps favorite card.
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IMG_3649This card read “Hall Bros. Inc. Hallmark c. 1938” on the back of it.

Christmas in the 1940’s
We also found a lot of WWII related papers in the school house including posters supporting war bonds and gas ration forms. WWII was 1941-1945, right about the same time that Original Gramp was attending the school. It was also the last few years the school was open. I thought I’d share a bit about Christmas in the 1940’s.

1940’s Yuletide Facts:

  • During World War II Christmas trees were in short supply because of a lack of manpower (to cut the trees down) and a shortage of railroad space to ship the trees to market. Americans rushed to buy American-made Visca artificial trees.
  • In 1941, a five-foot Christmas tree could be purchased for 75 cents.
  • The shortage of materials—like aluminum and tin—used to produce ornaments led many people to make their own ornaments at home. Magazines contained patterns for ornaments made out of non-priority war materials, like paper, string, and natural objects, such as pine cones or nuts.
  • Electric bubble lights were created during the 1940s and remain popular even today.
  • Fewer men at home resulted in fewer men available to dress up and play Santa Claus. Women served as substitute Santas at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City and at other department stores throughout the United States.
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “White Christmas” were both written during the 1940s and quickly gained popularity with the war-weary, but optimistic, population. For those of you in Greenwich you know the special connection “I’ll be home for Christmas” has to the town. Here’s a link to an older Post Star article about “Kim” Gannon.
  • Travel during the holidays was limited for most families due to the rationing of tires and gasoline. Americans saved up their food ration stamps to provide extra food for a fine holiday meal.
  • Many Americans threw their German blown-glass ornaments and exotic Japanese ornaments in the trash as soon as the war began. Shortly after the war, Corning Glass Company in New York began mass-producing Christmas tree balls using machines designed to produce light bulbs. Corning could make more ornaments in a single minute than a German cottage glass blower could make in a whole day.

Tefft Family Christmas Traditions
Years ago we had huge Christmas Eve celebrations up at the family house on the top of Hardscrabble Lane. Every year someone would dress up as Santa and hand out presents. A lot of time it was the Original Gramp.IMG_3400Christmas Eve on Hardscrabble Lane circa 1989 featuring Original Gramp as Santa, his daughter Sandy, and grandchildren.

Growing up we had a rule that no one could leave their bedroom on Christmas morning until Gramp and Em gave the go ahead. They would get into position in the living room and take our picture as we ran to the tree and saw all the gifts for the first time. We have one of these photos for every year. I think their secret reason for doing this was so they could guzzle as much coffee as possible before all heck broke loose. We’re continuing this tradition with Philip (and the dogs) Here’s one of the best photos!72604_4762468665051_1306754782_nJesse, Sarah, Ben, Myself, Jason, and Luke Christmas morning 2012

Next Week
Sarah Tefft arrives home today for a week of holiday fun. In the spirit of the 1940’s we’re going to make our own Christmas decorations and gifts using materials repurposed from the demo of the school house. We’ll also be decorating gingerbread houses. We’ve learned from last year each Tefft needs their own house (apparently we aren’t good at sharing). Can you guess what Gramp will be engineering his house to look like?

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