Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mom's shared Christmas Memory: "Christmas In the Coal Fields'"

                                                         (Mom, Audella Evans, Age 5)

    In my last post, I mentioned that our older loved ones that we care for have memories of a childhood that was so very different from ours.  A few years ago, my Mom shared with us her experiences as a child growing up as a daughter of a coal miner in West Virginia.  I am sharing her story here because not only is it precious to us, her children, but also a glimpse into a time long gone.  

     May our Lord bless you and your family with a wonderful Christmas!     


                      Christmas In the Coal Fields

    Growing up in the mountains and in the Coal Fields of West Virginia wasn't always easy.  We had very few conveniences.  In the Coal Camp where I lived, we had one store that was owned by the Coal Company.  The store had a little of everything, but not a lot of toys or things for Christmas.  The miners' wages were not high, and transportation was limited, there were no buses and only a few people owned cars - we did not.  So, very little shopping was done.

    But we received catalogues thru the mail!  Sears, Montgomery Ward, and Aldens - we called them "wish books".  And they became well-worn!  We would choose 1 or 2 items from the "Wish Book" and our parents would go to Beckley, the nearest town to us, where they had stores.  They would try to purchase something for us.  They would get what they could afford.  I always got a beautiful doll.  And if it wasn't the item from the "wish book", that was OK - we were happy with what we got for Christmas.

    Dad didn't want to throw the catalogues away, so after Christmas, we would fold down the pages and make a door stop out of our "wish books". 

    We always had a Christmas Tree - one Dad cut from the woods and brought in.  We did have lights for the tree and some ready made bulbs, but mostly we made our own tree decorations.  We always thought we had the most beautiful Christmas Tree ever!

    The miners had a Union and throughout the year the men would each put a little money into a fund.  The Treasurer, my Uncle Fred Schlager, would use that money to buy nuts, candies, and fruit.  Then he would fill a large brown paper bag with these goodies - one for each child in a family.  We always looked forward to that special treat on Christmas Eve!  These items weren't plentiful back then, like they are today.

    And Christmas Eve usually brought snow - snow that would last for 1 or 2 months!

    What I remember most was our family being together.  We shared our memories and love toward each other and our neighbors.  Not exactly a Norman Rockwell Christmas, but it was ours!  And it was precious.

    Shared with love,