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Welcome to the December newsletter of the Georgina Historical Society. I wish to thank all our members for your support of the GHS during this trying year. Hopefully as 2021 progresses we will be able to resume our regular meetings and activities. 2020 is certainly a year to go down in the history books.
On a more positive note, our 2021 calendar, “Landmarks of Georgina” has been very well received. Very few copies of the 200 printed remain unsold, so if you wish to purchase one contact a board member soon before they are all gone. Thank you for supporting this fund raiser for the caboose restoration.
Not a lot of news this month so in the newsletter you will find some vintage Christmas postcards from the early, 1900s, “How to Keep Christmas” from 1896, Christmas in the One Room School and Christmas Firewood stories to read.
.Don‘t forget to renew your Georgina Historical Society Membership for 2021. Hope to see you all soon in the New Year.
Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2021! Take care; stay safe!
Christmas in the One Room School – By Tom Glover
In the little one room school the Christmas concert was the highlight of the year. Each December, as well as preparing lessons, making up and marking tests and preparing report cards for forty plus students, the teacher was expected to organize a concert, consisting of songs, recitations, drills and plays.
Every pupil was to be in some part of the concert and their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all came out to see their little Jane or Johnnie perform. The concert was expected to be about two hours in length and had to be good. The teacher’s reputation was judged by the quality of his or her Christmas concert. A collection would be taken and used to purchase a new baseball, bat or maybe a glove.
At SS#5, North Gwillimbury, we started practising for the Christmas concert in early November. Our teacher and Mrs. Cowieson, our itinerant music teacher would select the carols that we would sing and we would begin to practise the songs. Usually, there would be a junior choir, a senior choir and of course a combined choir of all the students for the big wind up finale.
We would practise what she taught us during the week and we were expected to show improvement when she returned for the next lesson. Our teacher would select recitations and a couple of plays for the concert. You felt pretty important if you were selected to be in a play or to give a recitation.
We rehearsed at noon hour and recess as well as during regular class time. On Monday, the week before the concert we would arrive at school to find a stage had been erected at the front of the classroom and a tree stood in the corner for us to decorate. That week was a frenzy of final preparations for the big event. The evening of the concert we dressed in our Sunday best, and sang and recited to a packed house.
All our songs and recitations brought great rounds of applause. Silent Night and Away in a Manger and of course a Nativity Scene were always crowd favourites. Half way though the concert, senior students would start glancing to the back of the room, to see whose father might have left to get dressed as Santa. With the jingle of bells, Santa always arrived to the much pleasure of all in attendance. He would call out our names and with a chuckle and a hug gave us all a little brown paper bag of candy. If we recognized Santa we would not let on, so as not to spoil it for the younger kids. The last gift was a special present (a large box of chocolates) for our teacher and then with a “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Santa left the building.
One of the school trustees rose and thanked the students and the teacher for a wonderful evening of entertainment. Every year he said, “It was the best concert he had ever attended!” Our teacher, (wow, she looked pretty all dressed up for the occasion) would thank the students for their participation, all the audience for coming and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. The evening ended with much well-wishing for the Christmas season, and then we all bundled up for the cold drive home. The Christmas concert might have been over but the memories of the evening would last for a long time.
HOW TO KEEP CHRISTMAS
As we struggle to cope with pandemic guidelines for a safe Christmas I thought you might like to see the suggestions on” How to Keep Christmas “published in the Newmarket Era on December 24, 1896.
Keep the day holy
Keep the cook if you can
Keep painted toys out of the baby’s mouth
Keep your temper if you can’t carve the turkey right
Keep your Christmas Feast at home with your little ones
Keep your eye on the new wax doll so it won’t be smashed before night
Keep your mother-in-law in humour by giving her some slight testimonial of your esteem
Keep the presents you receive as sacred mementoes, not on account of their value, but on account of who gave them to you
Keep a bottle of medicine where you can get at it when the children rest from their labour of devouring mince pie, plum pudding, chicken salad, oyster stuffing, doughnuts, French candies, nuts, etc.
Keep in mind the most disgraceful thing to be said of a man is that he got a brick in his hat for Christmas
Keep a firm hold on your heart
It is a bad time to fall in love, for when the excitement of the holidays passes, you might like to be out of it again
Keep the joy and gladness of Christmas in your hearts and in your homes as long as you can. There is no reason it should ever die out
Keep the wants of the poor in mind in the midst of the abundance which heaven may shower on you
Keep your eyes open when the collection plate is passed around for the orphans at Christmas, even if you were up all the night before. It would look better to take a nap at another time.
Keep a little of the good things to spread out throughout the holidays.
Don’t spend your months’ salary for a big breakdown and have to go in debt afterward.
Keep all the slippers you get, no matter how many.
They will come in good next summer for throwing at the cats on the shed.
Keep your eyes open to the kind of presents you get. If you’re young is working for a salary of $6 a week and gives you a present worth something in the neighbourhood of$40 to $50, make up your mind there is a screw loose somewhere.
Keep a few of the good things left over from your grand dinner party for your poor relations who may happen by during the week.
Keep a bright smile, a pleasant word and a warm corner in your heart for every child you come across on Christmas.
Keep your arm around your girl, by all means, if she will let you when you take her out sleigh riding.
Be sure to notify the livery man of your intentions beforehand.
You will have a delightful time with a slow going horse used to the one armed business but Maud B or St. Julius would be apt to send the pair of you into kingdom come.
Keep it in mind that Christmas is a Christian Festival, not a state day or political celebration.
Let the joy and gladness be genuine, let the blessed peace it brings go down to the very depths of your heart so that you may be at peace with all men and bear enmity towards none.
Let the music of its joy bells awaken a new song of love in your hearts – love for home and family and friends – love for the little ones all the world over – love for the poor; the beloved of God – and love for Him the Christ Child for whose coming the sweet feast commemorates.
Much of this advice is as true today as when it was published over 120 years ago!!
Christmas Firewood – By Tom Glover
Like most kids we always woke up early Christmas morning. My sister, brother and I would sit at the top of the stairs and repeatedly ask “Is it time yet?”
Finally mom or dad would say “okay” and we would race down stairs to see what Santa had brought. After we had opened our stockings and exchanged gifts we would have breakfast before heading out to the barn to help dad with the morning chores. My sister would remain in the house to help mom clean up and assist with preparations for the Christmas meal. My brother and I would always hurry through our chores, anxious to go back to the house to enjoy our Christmas gifts.
Imagine our chagrin when we asked our dad” Can we go now?” only to hear him reply, “I need you boys to help throw 2 cords of wood on the truck; I need to deliver it this morning.” Frustrated we quietly headed for the wood pile while father got the truck. Wondering all the time we tossed the firewood on the truck why dad had to deliver it Christmas morning of all times. Once it was loaded we were overjoyed to hear him say we were not needed for the delivery and we raced for the house as the old Ford truck headed down the lane.
Over the next few days I thought about that extra Christmas chore and wondered about the purpose of the Christmas firewood delivery. Asking my mother, she would only say “Someone was in need; he is always doing things like that. When your father helps someone out he does it quietly and does not like to have a fuss made about it.”
Of course, he was giving the firewood to a “hard up” neighbour! No longer did I look on the loading of firewood on Christmas morning as an additional chore imposed on us, but as the Christmas we helped our father do a good deed. It was then I realized Christmas was not just a time to give and receive gifts among family and friends but a time to help others less fortunate.
A great life lesson learned!
Some Vintage Seasonal Postcards
A collection of postcards from an old scrapbook of Tom Glover’s and several from on line gathered by Bob Holden.
Right – “A Happy New Year 1910”
A more traditional scene
Below 4 are from the first decade of the 20th century…
A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from your Board and the newsletter Committee of the
Georgina Historical Society
Where in Georgina?
A Christmas Greeting found in the Newmarket Era December 22, 1899
Our calendars have been a resounding success! The first press run sold out in only a few days. The second press is now available and selling out quickly. Be sure to reserve your copy though any Board member or by contacting us through the website or by e-mail. It would make a lovely Christmas and New Year’s gift!
Our General Meetings will remain suspended until further notice due to Covid-19 restrictions.