Monday, November 30, 2009

30 November 1955 “Party Prep and a ‘How do you Do’”

christmas ad 2 Okay, gals, just a quick one today!

I am still busy post Thanksgiving, as I am hosting a Christmas Tea for the ladies tomorrow afternoon followed by a Tree Trimming Party. It will not be a big affair, but I am busy none the less.

I promise a nice big post with photos and recipes from Thanksgiving and also this party. I am making chocolate gingerbread (no chilling in the ice box) and peppermint meringues that I will dip in chocolate. coffee adI will also be preparing some peppermint marshmallows for tomorrow to have with our hot chocolate while we trim the tree.

woman with christmas tree1We are getting our tree tonight and almost every old photo I see of Christmas trees show that they were rather bare by today’s standards. I rather like it! I am not sure if I can find such a tree, but perhaps I can ‘barter’ my way to a lower price, “Why look at that tree”, I might say, “Bare as a newborn babe, I couldn’t possibly pay full price!” or something along those lines.

I am not sure if they merely used different strain of pine in the old days, but honestly most of the trees I see even in Home and Garden and High end magazines of the time show them rather thin and branchy! Are any of you old enough to recall of your trees were ‘scrawny’ by today’s standards?

Well, back to work. If I can complete my new dress, I shall show that too as well as share the idea I have for it if it works.

Until later, then, Happy Homemaking!


  1. Perhaps that is where 'trimming' the tree comes from. All you need is one nice Canadian spruce and a pair of secateurs! And voila, in no time you'll have a perfect 50s tree.

  2. The tree farms of today use so many different fertilizers and chemicals to produce as many trees as possible, each one having the same dimensions of fullness...all perfect little rows of clone trees that look exactly the same to save the buyer the trouble of having to trim it to how they want. Which I guess for some people that could OK, but if I was going to get a real tree, I'd want one with a little more personality.

  3. My goodness! So we even have to clone out and homogenize Christmas trees! Heavens to Betsy, that is upsetting. Well, I am going to our local farm to find our tree, perhaps they have some that are naturaly grown if they exist anymore. I always have a fantasy that when we can finally afford a little place in NH that we can plan a trip in Dec and cut a tree from our own land. A little party, some skiing and then the tree taken back to the cape. Then, I could replant what we take as well, so it is still a green choice (no pun intended) Now I am bound and determined to find a proper tree. Now I think I FINALLY understand the Charlie Brown Christmas with all the tin trees!

  4. We have a tiny silver tree. =) It's not a real aluminum one. My mom made me give that one back when we moved to Colorado, haha. It was definitely more along the lines of a silver Charlie Brown tree, but I loved it! We made do a few years ago buying a 4' silver prelit tree from a store that sells what other stores do not want anymore even though they are still new.

    Have a fun time!! I cannot wait for some of those recipes!


  5. Hi - my childhood trees looked like that and would be bare by christmas from the needles dropping off! The trees today are often the non-drop variety, but last year my mum had a traditional Norway Spruce which looks like those. Touch it and the carpet turns green with needles!

    But that is in England - don't know what trees you have in America!

  6. The trees of my youth were less full than today. They also were more expensive. I remember the lead tinsel as well. My son recently asked me if lights were hotter than the ones now and if they caused any problems. Yes, they were hotter. In fact, my parents had ornaments that had a "fan" in them that moved with the heat, much like the ones that move with candles. There were also house fires due to a dry tree and lights. My mother purchased an artificial tree in 1960 and never went back. She thought a real tree was too much of a fire hazard.

  7. Well, I have actual vintage lights this year (the large colored ones) and some tinsel, so let's hope I can go fire-less! I just can't do an artificial tree, as without the scent of the pine indoors, not sure it would seem Christmas. Next year I am going to do what my MIL did (up until a few years ago, now she goes down to Florida until Spring) and that was buy a nice niced pinetree in burlap, and keep it watered and then plant it in the yard come spring. They have some lovely specimens from this tradition and you can always recall the Christmas from that. But, this year it will be as 1955 as I can get!

  8. We have an artificial tree as my husband is allergic to pine. However, I put a small "real" tree on the deck and festoon it with berries and birdseed ornaments for our feathered friends.

    Here are those recipes for you! Sorry it took so long but I've just now gotten a chance to post!

    They are from "Gifts from your Kitchen" by Carli Laklan and Frederick-Thomas, copyright 1955. 300 Recipes, 300 Wrappings for Anniversary, Birthday, Christmas, and Special-Day Giving.


    1 pound chestnuts
    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 cup grated unsweetened chocolate
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon brandy

    Slit the flat sides of the chestnuts in an X. Put in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, but leave the chestnuts in the water. Take them out one at a time; remove shell and inner skin. If the water cools, reheat briefly. Cook the peeled chestnuts in boiling water for about 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Press them through a sieve.

    While this puree is still hot, mix in the other ingredients. Line a 9-inch baking dish with buttered paper, and spread the mixture in, pressing it down firmly. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. Cut into squares.

    Sugared Chestnuts

    Remove the chestnut skins as described above. Make a sweet sugar sirup (for a pound of chestnuts, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, 3 cups water, a pinch of salt). Bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes. Add the chestnuts and cook over very low heat about 2 hours, or until the sirup has nearly absorbed. During the last few minutes of cooking, add 2 tablespoons of brandy. Remove the chesnuts careully. Drain and cool.

    Sorry so long. Enjoy!

  9. We have always had an artificial tree. My mom and I are both allergic. Badly. I touch a "real" tree and I have hives for days if not weeks. However, when I worked in a bank several years ago, the local florist brought in a real tree that had been flocked. I had never seen such a thing, but fell in love. Then, about 10 years ago, I found an artificial one that was flocked and insisted we purchase it. We didn't need a new tree, but I had to have it. It turned out that was providence, for my brother-in-law's house burned that year and he lost all his christmas stuff (along with his artificial tree), so we gave our other one to him, along with some ornaments and such. He still uses them.

    My grandma always had a real tree, and she put it in the basement rec room. Because of the lower ceiling height, she had a squat tree that was VERY round every year. I will always recall sitting in the basement, opening presents, not being able to walk across the floor for all the paper, then eating ourselves silly on the food that my Aunt had prepared. The one that had chased around with the Capone gang, well, she could cook like you have never seen.

    My grandma has been gone 5 years now, and I still cannot go down the street where she lived. I just find it offensive that someone else lives in her house. Stupid, I know. But I just cannot get past it. I don't want to see what those "other" people have done to Ethel and Rich's house.

  10. Lori-What wonderful memories you have! Not stupid at all to find it offensive that someone else lives in her house now. *hugs*

  11. My Memory of Christmas is travelling up to the Goderich area of Ontario to visit my grandparents farm, and one special memory is my grandfather taking an ax and going to cut a small pine tree across the street for Christmas.

    The whole house smelled of baking pies and pine tree, as I decorate my tree with the ornaments of my childhood up to my great grandparents and grandparents Christmas balls, I think of Christmas past and how I long to actually see my grandfather's interact with my boys.

    And if I listen closely enough, I can hear their laughter as they witness my boy's playing together.

    Christmas is a time to cherish your loved ones, to reflect on the past with loved ones long gone, and a time to look forward to the many Christmas' ahead with your loved ones.

    Thank you sincerely for this wonderful blog, I have immensely enjoyed it 50's gal, more than you would ever know.

    It's sad that this chapter is ending, but I hope your next venture in life or you new chapter if you will, is filled with the same enthusiasm and joy that you have extended to us through your words on this site.

    Best of luck in the New Year,

    Mom in Canada

  12. Jenn-Thank you so much for the recipe. I am rather excied about these as I adore chestunuts this time of year. I like the boiling method, as I have ever only roasted them and they can be rather a pain to shell. I will definitely try this.
    Lori-That is a great story to remember. I can understand your sadness at not wanting to confront the present encroaching on your treasured past. It is too bad you could not have somehow bought your grandmothers home to live in, that would have been great. Yet, here you get to make new memories to recall. Have you ever thought of knocking on the door and getting to know the people who lived there? I bet they would love to see old pictures of their new house from the past, I know I would! Maybe they keep their tree in the basement room too!
    mom in canada-what a lovley sentitiment about your grandparents. This really is a time to take stock, count our blessings and appreciate one another. They used to say, "Keep that Christmas feeling all year long" well, now the current Christmas feeling of buy buy buy, rush, push, be rude, complain to the sales help and honk and have road rage do seem to last the whole year long, unfortunately. But, we can look past all that and maybe in our quiet calm way, others will look to us and think, "Hmmm, why aren't they rushing about in a panick to buy and get through the season?" and then take a breath and just appreciate their freinds and family. The real Christmas spirit can return.
    Thank you so much for enjoying my blog. It is hard, now, to recall a time before the blog. Don't worry, though, I have no intention of going anywhere. If any of you still are interested in my findings and stumbling my way through the self-teaching of homemaking. I think, in anything, my enthusiasm has increased as the project has gone along. Thank you for coming along for the ride. My best to all of you who have faithfully followed me and commeneted as this blog is really as much yours as it is mine. SO much of what we discuss in the comments really stay with me and really add to and help evolve this project. I can't belive the year is almost up!

  13. Lorie- I had the same idea as 50's Gal. Contact the new owners of your Grandmother's home and see if they'd let you see it and are interested in you sharing your family's history with them.

    I totally would welcome someone did that to us. Our home was build in the late 1920's and the first sale recorded was in 1931. I've been able to track down the names of a few owners based on the real estate records and info available at our town historical society but to talk to someone who lived here and see pictures would be so wonderful!

    50's Gal, I'm glad you've enjoyed your blog as much as me! Well, ok, it's a labor of love for you and I'll never be as involved as you are but I feel so fortunate to have stumbled over here back in March. I can't wait for the website you're considering!! :)


  14. Donna and Sarah H.-- I have thought about that, but the last time I was at Ethel's house (and they had it built, noone else ever lived there), was the week before they closed on the sale. My hubby and I went to pick up a few things for my aunt to remove them for her. I still get teary when I think of opening the door and smelling my grandma's perfume, and walking through the house, knowing it was the last time I was ever going t be there. It was like losing her all over again.

    They offered the house to us when they sold it, and we thought about buying it, long and hard. But that house will ALWAYS be Ethel's house. I could strip it down to the studs and remodel, but I would still expect her to be there, sitting at the table, loking at her magazines, or in the TV room watching her "stories". My grandma Ethel was just such a large part of my life, that I have had a very hard time grieving her loss. My brother and I will still talk on the phone, begin sharing a memory and get emotional thinking of how she is gone. It has taken me years, and I am not sure I am still ever really accepting of it all. Someday, maybe...but not yet.

    At this stage in my life, were I to meet these people and go back into that house, I know I would become angry at what these people had done to HER house (she hadn't changed the decor during my ENTIRE life). Keeping my distance, I know there is a family there, and I am happy that the house is continuing on as a family home. I just don't want to be reminded that it isn't MY family.

    I know that sounds a little selfish, but like I said...I just think I am stil grieving her loss. Five years seems like a long time, but it feels like it has only been weeks sometimes.

    Perhaps, someday I will meet those folks and share with them how loved that house was to us, but not yet.

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