COLUMNISTS

Celebration of Christmas bright spot in dark year

Jerry Apps
Celebration of Christmas is a bright spot, a chance to see light in the darkness.

During these dark and dismal days, when many of us are challenged by the effects of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration of Christmas is a bright spot, a chance to see light in the darkness.  An opportunity to feel joy in the midst of despair.

I.remember earlier times when Christmas boosted our spirits.  I recall the Depression years, (1930s) when I was a little kid, living on a sandy, central Wisconsin farm.  Our farm income had hit rock bottom.  To add to the economic misery, dry weather with sand storms  swept across central Wisconsin, day after day, week after week. But we always had something to eat, and a roof over our heads.  We celebrated Christmas with church services, oyster stew on Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree, and a present or, two, often homemade.

I remember so well the World War II years (1941-1945) when several of my cousins were in the military, and everyone prayed that they would once more return home (blessedly they all did). Rationing of everything from tires, gasoline, to sugar challenged everyone.  But we celebrated Christmas with church services, oyster stew on Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree, and a few presents.

I remember the dreaded years of the polio epidemic (1945-1955), when like today, many events were canceled and fear hung in the air like a dirty black cloud.  But we celebrated Christmas with church services—oyster stew on Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree, and some presents.

And now in 2020, my family will celebrate Christmas with virtual church services, oyster stew on Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree, and some presents. And we will feel the joy of the celebration during these trying times.

 THE OLD TIMER SAYS: The celebration of Christmas lifts one’s spirits.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to www.jerryapps.com.