Christmas During The Great Depression

22 Dec

 

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

Christmas During The Great Depression

                The older I get, the more it seems that I look back at past Christmases.  The one thing that really stands out in my memory is my mother telling me a number of times about her childhood Christmases during the Great Depression.  I guess the reason I really remember them is because they were so different than what is normal in America today.

                Mom’s parents back then farmed their 160 acre farm, along with some rented acreage, five miles west of Augusta, WI.  Back then they used horses to work the land and to put up the crops.  So they always had several horses on the farm along with some dairy cows.  They also raised hogs and chickens.  They had a very diversified farming operation.  They sold milk, meat, eggs and crops from their farm.

                The problem back then was that prices for farm commodities were extremely low, so it was almost impossible for them to make a profit on the farm, even though they were very hard workers.  Added to that was the fact that during the 1930’s they had many years of severe drought, so they didn’t get much for crops.  If all of this wasn’t bad enough, they had a double mortgage on the farm.  They lived for years under the constant threat that the bank would foreclose on them.

                So what did my mom and her sister and brother get for Christmas a lot of those years you ask?  The answer will probably shock you, but it is the truth.  Just before Christmas, Mom’s dad would go into town and buy three oranges.  On Christmas Day, each child got one orange to eat.  It was the only time of year that they ever got an orange to eat!  And how they savored them, they were such a special treat, and they knew their parents had sacrificed to buy them.

                Is that all they got you ask?  Well, yes and no.  That’s all their parents could afford to buy them.  But they got so much more.  They had godly parents who loved them greatly.  They read the Bible to them and told them of God’s great gift to man.  How God’s Son, Jesus, was born in an animal stable to a very poor couple many years ago to save all of us from our sins.  They told them that that was the whole meaning of Christmas.

                On Christmas Day, Mom’s dad would hook a horse up to the sleigh and take his family to church where the children participated in a special children’s program.  The preacher would once again read Luke 2:1-20 and tell of the greatest gift ever given to mankind – Jesus.

                My mom told me this many times over the years.  Not because of how hard those Christmases were, but because of how blessed they were.

                Today, in our society, so much is made of buying piles of gifts to put under the Christmas tree.  But, all those gifts don’t really buy happiness.  True happiness comes from receiving God’s great gift, Jesus, into our hearts.  Once you have Jesus in your heart, then you know what Christmas is all about.

                If you have Jesus in your heart and the love of God in your home, as my mom did, you are truly blessed.  She was and she knew it, even if there were only three oranges under their Christmas tree!

                Tom Heck, his wife Joanne, and their two children, Catherine and Joshua, own and operate a 35 cow, 159 acre dairy farm in northwestern WI.  Contact Tom at: lifeonthefamilyfarm@gmail.com  To view Tom’s past articles go to: tomheckfarm.com   Copyright © 2013 by Tom Heck.  All rights reserved.

 

                Photo caption:  From our farm to your home – Merry Christmas.

CIMG0517

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