Out on the farm, Christmas morning started very early for Daisy’s family, while
she enjoyed the comfort of her aunt and uncle’s home on Peoria’s West
Bluff. As her family gathered together and loaded up their wagons to make
the short predawn trip into town, Daisy was up as well tending to her ever-swarming
nieces and nephews – all of whom were overly excited.
Christmas Eve was a most exciting time to be a child in the Langton home.
Along with all the singing and dancing (and the visit from the
whiskeydaddlers), they also got to play the board games their grandma
bought while in New York. One was called “Christmas Mail” and it involved
letter cards that had to be “delivered” to the correct addresses on the
There was a new game this year called “The Night Before Christmas” from
the Parker Brothers company, which was much more exciting to play. Each
player was given a certain number of present cards, and then, using a small
spinner, took turns moving a piece representing Santa Claus from his
workshop down a road with houses along the way and then back to his
home. Anytime the Santa piece stops on a house, the player gives up a
present card. The first person to run out of present cards or the one who has
the fewest cards left when Santa reaches home again wins the game.
Just before bedtime, they all gathered in the attic (where they all slept
together) and Grandma Jean showed them a big book called Thomas
Nast’s Christmas Drawings for the Human Race with its colorful illustrations of
Santa looking down into snowy chimneys, working at his workshop at the
North Pole, riding his sleigh high in the sky and even playing a piano – albeit
a much smaller one than their grandparents had two floors below.
They laughed at the funny drawings of the cherubic children eagerly
awaiting on Christmas Eve, following Santa’s route on a world map, standing
wide-eyed under mistletoe and staying up late, much like themselves, in the
hopes of catching a glimpse of Santa – which of course they never did.
When they woke up way too early on Christmas Day, their trampling down
from the attic – along with the accompanying gigging and yelling – brought
the rest of the family out of their (somewhat drunken) slumber. Their
grandparents had given the servants a week off between Christmas and
New Year, so they had the kitchen (and the cookies) to themselves until
someone came down to stop them. That person was Aunt Daisy. She was
soon joined by Aunt/Grandma Jean who was looking bright and chipper
despite the festivities from the night before. They quickly made toast (with
homemade preserves) for the children and shooed them into the living room
so they could get breakfast started for the family – which would be a light
one considering the big feast that they would have (starting) in the
While Daisy and Jean worked away (and were joined by the other
daughters/cousins) the children were now eagerly huddling around the
Christmas tree bursting with glass ornaments that had been imported from
Germany – delicate blown glass bulbs wrapped in fine silver filament with
white tinsel “flowers”, heavy round green ornaments made from something
called Mercury glass, big blue bulbs shaped like teardrops, and red ones
shaped like bunches of grapes.
While they gazed at the expensive ornaments which sparkled and glittered
in the morning sunshine, not one of them dared to touch anything including
the horde of presents packed under and around the massive evergreen that
further crowded the already over-packed living room. Grandma Jean told
them that every present had been placed in its exact spot by Santa Claus
himself – and he would know if they touched one, let alone picked one up.
Once the rest of the family came into town, they would head off to
Christmas Mass together before settling in for a massive afternoon/evening
feast. After dinner, at some point in the evening, they would get to open
their presents. But for now, they had to settle for just looking.