Join me for one of my top two favorite interviews with my dad. We talk about what Christmas was like for him growing up during the Great Depression and he shares memories and traditions while walking down memory lane.
I've chatted with my dad about what it was like growing up during the Great Depression and the 17 Self-Sufficiency tips he learned. He's even shared in a video the home he grew up in that didn't have electricity and what life was like back then.
You can also read about the 10 things our grandparents reused during the Great Depression, as well as these Great Depression-era money-saving tips, these time and budget-saving tips, and these tips on building a Great Depression-era pantry.
Because this is a Christmas post, you may also want to check out these handmade gift bags and tags from the Great Depression era and this Christmas Stovetop Potpourri.
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Growing up as a young boy, my dad remembers participating in a Christmas play with his school every year. And as long as the river wasn't too high and the ferry was still running the day the play was scheduled, he'd get to participate in it.
My dad also remembers riding the horse to school, even during the wintertime, having to cross the river on the ferry, and then tying the horse up to the monkey bars during the school day.
His schoolhouse was divided into two rooms, one for grades 1-3 and one for grades 4-6. If you were in middle or high school you had to ride the bus to the next town over for school.
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Dad recalls the Christmas gifts were only given to the younger children in the family since money was tight. He recalls wanting to stay young, just so he could keep getting gifts!
They did still have stockings, and typically each kid would get an orange and maybe a banana. They would be so excited and happy about something so basic, simply because the fruit wasn't available every day.
Dad shared they would always have a live Christmas tree that they would decorate with candles that would clip onto the branches. They would light the candles and also decorate with some homemade ornaments.
When I asked my dad about any food that was traditionally prepared on Christmas day, he remembers Grandma making chocolate gravy with biscuits on Christmas morning. Dad said they always had plenty to eat, but it may have just been basic staples.
Otherwise, he said his mom would usually cook up some hamburgers or sausage, which were a treat to get. They didn't do a traditional Christmas ham because they had to butcher their pigs periodically throughout the year and keep the meat in the locker in town, so they didn't always have a ham available during Christmastime.
He did recall doing a lot more hunting for deer/venison during the winter months, and if the weather was cold enough they could store the harvested meat outside.
He recalls one time storing a fish they had caught in a cooler on the porch and a cougar came and got it.
Extended family didn't tend to come over on holidays because the snow would be a couple of feet deep and the old model cars just weren't built to get through that much snow, plus they didn't have snowplows that ran regularly as they do now, so the county road only got plowed a couple of times a year.
More Articles on the Great Depression
- 10 Things Our Grandparents Reused During the Great Depression
- Time & Budget Saving Tips from the Great Depression & this Homesteader’s Kitchen
- Handmade Gift Bags & Tags from the Great Depression Era
- 5 Life Lessons from the Great-Depression
- Great Depression Era Money Saving Tips w/ Potatoes
- 7 Depression Era Tips to Stretch Your Food Budget
- 8 Depression Era Tips to Save Money Now
- Building a Great Depression Era Pantry
- 17 Self-Sufficiency Tips from the 1940’s & Great Depression Live Interview
Love the video with your Dad & your daughter. Can you get him back for another one:) He was great. Peace
Thank you so much!
My mom grew up during the depression and she told me many a story of having to ration staples etc.
My kids don’t care or want that knowledge so it dies with me💔
Write the stories and the knowledge. Let your kids know where to find it. Believe me, a few years down the road they’ll want it and appreciate it!
How old is your dad? The depression was in the early 30’s.
I’m aware of the dates of the Great Depression, it went until WWII, and my father was born during the Depression, he’s in his mid 80’s.
Thank you for sharing your family history..I also have parents that lived without basic and what remarkable stories they lived!♥️ Remember our roots 👍
I just LOVE it when you get your dad to talking about his growing up during the Depression! I’d try to get my gramma to do that and she’d tell us a few things but never really cared to talk about it much. She had lost her mother when she was 3 and her dad raised her and her brothers, they had a big truck garden and that. My gramma was always kind of a wallflower, that is until my aunt found her high school annuals. Gramma was always going to this or that skating party or picnic or…..we would have loved to have heard those stories!
Thanks for sharing this with us, your dad is such a sweetheart!
My dad and mom both grew up in the Great Depression. My Grand Parents were raising children during that time. On my dads side my grandmother grew up on a farm and the farm was still owned by her father so the farm got them through that time when many were losing theirs. Money was tight but they had food.
My other Grandparents and Great Grandparents did well during the Great Depression and my Great Grandfather bought his first house in 1930 and my Grandparents and mother and her siblings lived with them. The house was passed onto my mother and it is still in the family.
My Great Grandparents and Grandparents canned their gardens and lived off the food until the next harvest came in and did it again/ My mother learned to sew and she made all our clothing as well. Times were hard but not as much for them as others.
Facing inflation and empty shelves right now I am following in their footsteps of gardening and canning food. Will be necessary in the lean times.
Loved the video, it was really interesting.
This article brought back many memories of growing up on a dairy farm in upstate New York York in the 50’s. The snow was deep there also, but cows still needed to be milked and livestock needed to be fed. Milk still needed to be filtered, put into the cooler and brought into the house for daily use for our family of five. My father could not do road construction in winter, so he made a makeshift plow for the front of the Farmall and earned money during the winter clearing driveways for others. Schools were often closed for snow- days and my brothers and I made some great snow forts with the snow my dad piled up in the yard. I also walked a good mile to the frozen pond and taught myself how to ice skate. The severe winters were just part of my childhood and I didn’t think much about how that complicated every day life. As an adult, I’m sure glad to live in a state with lots of sunshine, rare snow showers, and no boots and mittens needed to shovel a path from house to barn!
We always had a real Christmas tree with home made gifts for each other wrapped in pretty paper tucked below the limbs. My dad always put the tree in an old pail and wedged rocks around the trunk to keep it upright.
We were actually a poor family by today’s standards but I never knew that because I was happy in my farm family. There was much love going around all the years I spent there, and when you know Jesus, you perpetuate that love to the next generation. So, as I sit every year admiring my Christmas tree and all of its special ornaments, I recall so many good memories with each one. My favourite is the ceramic figure of Santa kneeling beside the manger worshipping the baby Jesus. I never denied my son the idea of Santa, but I made sure he knew the he was the delivery man of gifts- God alone was the provider.
Traditions and good memories are so important to hold onto and share to balance every day concerns and struggles.
Thanks to your dad for his willingness to share himself.
Old farmers like us aren’t always inclined to do that. Blessings on you and yours, Melissa.
Keep writing. Keep sharing your homesteading knowledge.
My mother was born in 1928. Daddy in 1926. Mother always had a stock of food. I learned from her to Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. And I do.
Thank you for this video! My dad too grew up in the 20’s and 30’s and headed off to WWII at an early 17! So many stories he shared of living on the prairie during that time. One story he said the locusts came in and were so hungry. After eating all the crops and basically anything green, they started eating the fence posts. CRAZY!! He said the fences were pretty much gone because of them. And then the rabbits too. They had to herd them up because they ate everything too. Something to think about I guess…everything is hungry during lean times…not just humans.
This is a wonderful video of your father’s childhood Christmases. I am now 60, Growing up my Great Grandmother always gave us our same stockings at Christmas, that she knit, filled with nuts, an apple, orange and a cookie. And a small gift or handmade item. Very simple and I LOVED getting it. She passed on this simple gift because of how she had to live her life and I never thought of it while growing up.