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Grandma Love holding Baby Chrislove. She passed away in 2006 at the age of 92. I still miss her a lot.

I know it's a little late for Christmas stories, but we're still in the holiday season, right? I just remembered this story from my grandma's childhood about a particularly memorable Christmas. She'd told me the story many times, but I'm in luck in that she also wrote it down (along with several other stories). A couple of years ago, my aunt had it published in our local newspaper. The story takes place in 1919 and was titled "A Difficult Christmas" in the newspaper. Were she still alive, I'm sure she would have told it more than once this Christmas. So, in her memory, here it is in full:

When I was a little girl, about 5 1/2, we lived on a small farm not too far from our present home (in Pittsfield [PA]). Only of course there were very few cars, and horse and buggy in summer or horse and cutter or sleigh in winter was the way to go.

It didn't take much to please either children or their parents and social events of any kind were welcome. In the late fall there was a box social at one of the houses. I can still remember the house and even the room we had it in. The ladies fixed box lunches and then decorated the boxes real pretty. Then some man would auction off the box to the highest bidder. Then he and the person who brought the box ate the lunch together. I think it was common for the girl to tip off her boyfriend that the certain box with the big bow or flower on it was hers. I got to eat with a boy who was either coming down with scarlet fever or getting over it. And in the proper length of time I got very sick with scarlet fever. There were no miracle drugs...no penicillin or antibiotics. So the family was quarantined with a RED SCARLET FEVER card on the house. No one could come and no one could leave.

It so happened that old Uncle George was at our house at the time. So he had to stay. Uncle George often came and I never wondered why he wasn't at home with his children.

I remember I laid in a little bedroom off the kitchen. I was so sick...and I wanted water or ice...but I wasn't allowed any. Jessie [her younger sister] wouldn't have been much more than 4 years old, but I had her go outside and break off an icicle that hung from the porch roof in front of the window. I don't remember if we got caught at it or not. Little Mattie [her youngest sister] and Mama, who was expecting a new baby in a few months, both got the dreaded fever, too. Little Mattie had to learn to walk again.

By Christmas time I was a bit stronger. The tree was set in the corner of the parlor. Now, parlors were a bit like a living room...except you used them only on special occasions...weddings, parties, Christmas. The tree was decorated with popcorn and maybe real lighted candles about four inches long. These were dangerous and often caused house fires.

Since the family had been under quarantine for maybe two months or more, there was no way to go Christmas shopping. But my dear Daddy had got some pieces of lumber or boards and made a doll bed, a little table, and a cupboard. What more could three little girls want! I remember being very tired as I lay on the couch...not like the sofas we have now. We had a Santa Claus too. And as he handed out the gifts he said, "And here is one for Uncle George," who just happened to be gone. A pair of socks was his gift.

All through our girlhood years we used the three prized pieces of furniture. I claimed the table and my two oldest children often ate at it in front of a warm stove when our house would be cold. They had little red chairs which I had bought for them. I lost my little table in a fire which burned the house down when baby Carol [my aunt] was born.

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate.

Readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

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