Old School Christmas

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Back in Emmett’s childhood, if you got an orange and a book (Huckleberry Finn, Ragged Dick, or one of the other bestsellers of the day for avid readers, like Emmett), that was considered a well gifted Christmas.

The Christmas tree at Orville & Wilbur Wright's family home, 1900. My first reaction was pity for the fool who had to hang wallpaper on the ceiling. Source: http://www.shorpy.com/node/2119

The Christmas tree at Orville & Wilbur Wright’s family home, 1900. I pity for the fool who had to hang wallpaper on the ceiling. Source: http://www.shorpy.com/node/2119

Emmett’s family had to count every single penny when it came to their household budget, so gift giving at the holidays was probably not as elaborate as in this photo. Emmett and his siblings were probably given practical gifts, like handkerchiefs and suspenders, or socks. I also think the Wilson Christmas tree looked very similar to this one, candles on the branches and all.

If I could have given Emmett a Christmas present back in the day, this would have been my choice:

The American Boy's Handy Book, 1890, by Daniel Carter Beard. It was been reissued by Scribners in 1995.

The American Boy’s Handy Book, 1890, by Daniel Carter Beard. It was reissued by Scribners in 1995. Source: Amazon.com

I know Emmett was already familiar with some of the activities in here, such as fishing (he loved fishing), but the book has a lot of other very cool and useful information that a boy would have loved to know, such as: how to tie all kinds of knots, how to build telescopes, how to excel in snowball warfare, how to build kaleidoscopes, even how to make your own fireworks (he would have had access to gunpowder back then). There is even a section on taxidermy, so Emmett could have mounted all the fish he caught that didn’t get eaten by his family!

I think this is a great book for kids today. It is all about doing things yourself, being hands-on and not sitting in front of a computer all day long.

This would be a good gift for my kids, but I would have say no to the fireworks making and the taxidermy, though. I know my neighbors would complain.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

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One thought on “Old School Christmas

  1. Nancy

    I gave that very book to a friend of mine’s 12 year old son many years ago. At the dawn of the computer age in fact. He thought it was the dumbest thing that ever was.

    Then again, he’s a drug addict who has broken his mother’s heart more times than you can count so maybe there was no saving him from himself.

    Nancy

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