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Pathways Through Our Past

Getting ready for the holidays

We are fast approaching Thanksgiving, Christmas and News Year's, all surrounded by foods and gift giving. After the holidays, we all plan to lose all those additional pounds we have gained from the rich foods consumed over those three holidays.

Our early settlers didn't have such problems. Pie fillings were canned as the contents became ripe. Pumpkin and apples were saved in cool, dark places. Lard was rendered when the pigs were butchered while bits of the meat was made into mincemeat.

The meat served was not necessarily turkey. It could be a goose raised on the farm or hunted from the flocks preparing to fly south. Or it could be a bear meat from the bear killed after it was found in the barn going after the young stock. Nuts and berries were saved for the special treats for the children.

Scraps of cloth and hide were saved throughout the year to make toys for the children and lumber was hoarded to build a doll cradle or a shelf for mom or grandma. New clothing was made for the members of the family or a feather tick or a quilt to place in the hope chest.

Maybe there was a checkerboard was painted and checkers carved out of good piece of bone or antler. No fancy paper was bought to wrap the gifts and there was no pile of presents under the tree.

Supplies were hauled home while the roads were still good. Once the snow started and cold weather set in, very little traveling was done.

Sometimes an item such as a saddle was paid for a little at a time or bartered for. Popcorn and wild cranberries were strung on string and hung on a tree.

Some holidays were celebrated when the family thought it was Christmas but, because the families didn't have a calendar, it might be a month later. It didn't really matter. There were no commercials to count down the days.

Today, we try to spend more money than the next guy but it's not how much was spent but by who.