by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
I love Christmas! I love everything about Christmas, from the beginning of Advent marking the awaiting of Christ’s birth to the Christmas cookies and Santa Claus —I love it all!
For the past several days I’ve been decorating my house to prepare for some holiday hosting. Sunday I participated in the Hanging of the Greens at Faith UMC and Monday I helped decorate the Christmas tree at the Grain Valley Historical Society. All of this, and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!
While this is not an old-fashioned Christmas for those who put “N/A” on the “place of employment” blank, in the not so distant future it will the an old-fashioned Christmas for the millennials.
The best deﬁnition for old-fashioned might be our memories from childhood. Growing up in Grain Valley in the 1940’s and 50’s, those memories might be cutting down a cedar tree growing at the edge of a pasture or buying a Christmas tree from the front of Frantz’s grocery on Main Street.
At my parents’ hardware store there were no trees, however, you could buy a box of ornaments or a string of lights. There were 7 bubble lights in one box or a second box of lights was the deluxe string of 15 regular colored lights. At the store you could also purchase shiny icicles in a package of 100 strands for 25-cents.
“Real” trees were only up for a week or 10 days before Christmas and a few days afterward and you had to water them daily. Hot lights and dry trees were a disaster waiting to happen. Young people growing up in the 1960s and 70s will no doubt cherish their memories of the beautiful (lol) silver foil trees!
The foil trees were usually adorned with pink and turquoise ornaments —no red and green on those fake branches!
While artificial trees have grown in popularity, through most of the 1980s and 1900s Grain Valley families could cut down a live tree at Greene Acres Christmas Tree Farm just north of Grain Valley.
Dorothy and Frank Greene started the business in 1976 as a way for their children and grandchildren to make extra money for holiday shopping. They began selling the trees in 1984. After selecting a tree, visitors would head to the Christmas House to pay for their tree, buy a hand made tree skirt, a wreath or pine garlands and, best of all, a cup of hot chocolate!
Fortunately, the smell of fresh pine and the beauty of a “real” tree is still popular. In fact, like fire works on the 4th of July and pumpkin patches at Halloween, a trip to a Christmas tree farm is becoming a popular weekend family event. Janie and Rich Wilson’s Whispering Pines Farm on Brown Road south of Grain Valley is a great place to insure an “old fashioned Christmas” memory for today’s children to look back on with fondness.
In addition to cutting down a tree, you can go on a hayride, visit the bee hives or buy some honey when you visit the craft shop.
So while we may not go over Sni-a-Bar Creek in a one horse open sleigh and the candles on your trees have been replaced by cool, safe lights, we can still enjoys an old-fashioned Christmas. As I always say, history is what happened yesterday.
Today is a good day to make some history with your family and celebrate an old fashioned Christmas!
This article was first printed in The Voice, the monthly publication of the Grain Valley Historical Society. Read past newsletters and sign up to receive the historical society’s monthly email by visiting www.grainvalleyhistory.com.