“Christmas Now and Then,” from the editorial page of The Farmer and Mechanic newspaper, published in Raleigh, N.C., Dec. 28, 1909
Do the boys of today enjoy their Christmas toys of today as much as the boys
of other days who had only home-made things? The sleds were then hewn out of
trees felled by the boys themselves and the little money a boy had for
Christmas he earned by his own labor. Didn’t that give a relish that money and
gifts that come easily cannot impart?
It is a good thing for the boys of this age to get a glimpse of the old-time
Christmas in the country and contrast those times with the present. Presents
are much handsomer now and more money is spent on them, but is there more real
fun in that shopping craze and swapping presents bought at stores than in the
other hardier times?
Here is a good picture of the Christmas of the days of old, given by “Buck”
in the Siler City Grit that is a good
aftermath of this Christmas of plenty:
“As it is almost Christmas and we are all looking for a good time, I will
pencil a few thoughts in regard to what I enjoy now and what I did when a boy.
“My father let me keep Christmas as long as the wood lasted. I had but one
object in view and that was a gun and hunting. It did not matter much as to
whether I killed much game or not, so I had the pleasure of shooting, though I
had to shoot according to my ammunition and for my money was made in the night
when I o9ught to have been in bed asleep. Yes, I have worked many, many nights
till mid-night burning coal and getting out barrel-staves to get my powder and
shot for Christmas. Oh, what would boys today think if they had that to do in
order to buy their Christmas tricks?
“I often think what a good, easy time the boys of today have long before
they are 21. They have a horse and buggy and many of them have more money in
their pockets than I had had all my young life, until I received $10 from the
State as a bounty for being a Confederate soldier. And yet many boys think they
are having a hard time and leave home for a better place. I wonder sometimes if
they ever think of us boys who spent four years in the Civil War. Many of us,
who were fortunate enough to get back home, did not have a dollar or a change
of clothes. I remember buying several yards of ‘jean’ cloth at a dollar a yard
and paid for it in work. I would split 300 rails a day, but I finally lacked 25
cents of paying for the outfit.
“No, boys, when you think your dad is the hardest master in the world and
you long to get away, just ask an old soldier for a little advice, and if I am
not mistaken he will tell you that you are a fool. The times have never been
better than they are now, and the boys who don’t have money and a good time are
not tempting bait for the girls and consequently they need not be surprised if
they get nothing better than a nibble.”