Sepia Saturday #361: Christmas Eve at Gram’s House

The end of both the year and this 2016 project is creeping up fast. On this post I’m going to put all the remaining Christmas cards from Aunt Sadie’s Shirley Temple Scrapbook that haven’t already been used in previous blog posts.


The first is a cleverly folded card. When collapsed, Santa is holding his sack over his shoulder but when opened up it’s sitting on a table. Santa is a bit pigeon-toed and is being assisted by three adorable dogs all wearing bows. This household is getting a teddy bear in a wagon as a present. The saying inside reads, “If I were Santa Claus you’d get a sleigh chock full of gift, I bet!”


A mystery card is next. This one features a beautiful poinsettia both on the cover and inside. It’s sent from Aunt Lizzie. Though the sepia361015mystery is who exactly is she? Another item for my to-do list….


Another Santa is winking benevolently at a grey kitten dressed in blue outerwear and holding a muff to keep her paws warm. Santa, though, is holding a sign that says, sepia361002“Hello, Little Girl!” meant for the card recipient rather than the kitten. The saying inside reads, “Hello, little girl! Merry Christmas! Hope Santa is lovely to you and hope there’s a lot of surprises in store for you all the year though!” This was sent to Aunt Sadie from her Grandma Anna K. Repsher.


And some kittens in “a basket full of yuletide cheer!” grace the front of this card. The sepia361009basket is surrounded by holly and has a big red bow tied to it. One of the kittens on the inside is reading to the sender, “Just a little message for Christmas and New Year but it is warm and friendly and heartily sincere.” Assuming this is from Grandma Strait this time since the capital “G” is made in a completely different way.


This cut-out Santa is wishing everyone Happy Holidays but I’m unsure why he’s wearing a wreath around his neck. He’s wearing a yellow belt and mittens and the red part of his suit sepia361004is fuzzy to the touch. The inside is different, being a card made from red card stock. The saying explains the wreath, “I’m on my way this Christmas, All wrapped up in holly, My rosy cheeks are wreathed in smiles, I’ve come to make you jolly!” This is the only card in the collection from Sadie’s Aunt Bernice (and the boys) sent to Sadie in 1941.


This simple red, grey, and black Art Deco card features a couple of candles nestled in holly.

sepia361013Sent in 1937 from Grandma (Repsher, based on the capital G), it says on the inside, “Wishing you all the joys that come with a Merry Christmas.”

The next card is another Santa in a fuzzy-to-sepia361005the-touch suit on a rooftop with his sack getting ready to deliver his presents. He’s waving and giving a sepia361006generic “Howdy!” as greeting. I particularly like the vignette on the inside of this card. It shows a very cozy fireside scene with the “stockings all hung by the chimney with care” and a decorated Christmas tree. Uncle Adam and Aunt Kitty sent this one to Sadie. The saying inside reads, “From Christmas tree to jingle bells, to gifts and holly, too, I hope old Santa bulges, with loads of joy for you!”


The last Christmas related card has a little boy and his dog standing in front of a large wreath. The boy is “singing out” and it certainly looks like the dog is helping out or perhaps scowling at the caterwauling. The card comes from Kitty Smith before she was married to Sadie’s Uncle Adam.


Bea and Bill’s first Christmas.

Bea and Bill’s first Christmas together was celebrated in 1935 and they took a picture to commemorate. I like the simplicity of this photo; the radio sitting on the table, the doilies on the chair, the strings of beads along the windows, the tinsel on the tree itself, the style of the furniture.


Jen’s first Christmas at Gram Strait’s house.

Up until the year Sadie’s mother Beatrice (my grandmother) died, Christmas Eve at Grandma Strait’s house on Lincoln Place was a tradition we observed for many years. As my parents started their family, and because my grandmother was widowed fairly young, it was a way to celebrate the holidays with Gram while still having Christmas day at our own home on Merriam Avenue. We would gather at Gram’s house for dinner along with Aunt Sadie and Uncle Jimmy. After dinner, Gram would open her presents from Dad and Sadie and then we would open our gifts from Gram to us. She often embroidered pillowcases, table runners, and dresser scarves for us as gifts and she always included a hand-made felt ornament on the packages for everyone.


Martha, Jenni, Jodi, Jill and Bill


Martha with daughters Jenni, Jodi and Jill

Over the years, we had a few variations to the usual cast of characters. When Gram married Joseph Guirreri in 1976, Maryann Ulmer, and her children, Mike and Lisa, joined us for Christmas Eve. After Joe’s passing in 1980, Maryann and my grandmother had a falling out over some of Joe’s things. They didn’t join us again. Unfortunately, after my parent’s divorce, my Dad quit joining us for Christmas Eve.

Grams’ house was always decked out to the nines with Christmas decorations. They hung from the ceilings, covered the tables and overran the bookcases. This picture highlights some of that:


Martha with daughters Jenni, Jodi and Jill


Jenni, Jodi, Martha and Jill

A running joke about Christmas Eve at Gram’s house started when the granddaughters were old enough to start bringing boyfriends as guests. Gram’s standardscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-59-36-pm gift to all men invited that weren’t yet family or were brand-new to the family was a sturdy soap-on-a-rope from Avon.

We also had one memorable year when my grandmother surprised us all with the gifts for that year. Gram grew up during the Great Depression, then felt the effects of rationing during World War II. As a result, she was very frugal and loved to send away for free things or receive free gifts when buying something else. Think bookmark-when-you-order-a-magazine-subscription type free gifts… Well, unbeknownst to us, she spent a whole year collecting free things and squirreling them away for Christmas. We all tramped into the house with our gifts for Gram in our arms. While placing those under her tree, we took one look at the gifts already there and knew something was up. Instead of a bunch of wrapped gifts there were only a few things along with a blue, lumpy, pillowcase type bag. We started whispering amongst ourselves, “What the heck is that?”


Jodi, Jenni, Martha and Jill

We got through dinner and then gathered in the living room to start the gift exchange. As usual, Gram opened her gifts first and after that it was time for the grandkids to open theirs. She picked up the blue bag and announced, “This year we’re doing something different. Everybody gets gifts but it’s going to be a grab bag this year!” And sure enough, it was. She had individually wrapped things but you didn’t know what you were going to get. There was a checkbook size year calendar, a decorative plate, a tote of some sort, a comb and brush, mittens, a mug, etc. All sorts of little odds and ends. We got a kick out of it (another running joke for the years ahead was born) and Gram was so proud of herself for thinking of something so unique.


Jenni, Gram Strait, Jill and Jodi

You can tell in the picture above that it’s Christmas since the Christmas tchotchkes are everywhere! Elves on the lamp, toy soldiers sitting on the bookcase shelves, gift bows on the marble-top table. Apparently, we got purses for Christmas that year.

 One final, parting Christmas Eve at Gram’s House photo:


Jenni, Jill, Jodi and Martha

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo (originally #310, 19 Dec 2015): Christmas Eve



2 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday #361: Christmas Eve at Gram’s House

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