Christmas Past – Canadice Style

The holiday season always seems to bring a fair amount of nostalgia. We look back on the past year, or years passed, often with a mix of emotions. Mrs. Maude Van Duyne, who lived much of her life in Canadice, was a frequent contributor of historical sketches and other material to the Wayland Register. She wrote the following article in 1942, in which she gives a charming description of what Christmas was like 50 years earlier.

Thanks to Rick Osiecki of the Little Lakes Community Association, and Mrs. Maude Van Duyne, for the following article, which can be found along with others at

Christmas 50 Years Ago

Mrs. Maude Van Duyne

From the Wayland Register, 17 December 1942

Square Dance at LLCA

Looking at the snow-covered landscape on these wintry December days reminds me that the Christmas season is with us once again.

Merry Christmas!

What a wealth of memories these words call to mind.

For some they will bring memories of a happy day at grandfather’s home with all the uncles, aunts and cousins; to some they will recall the pleasure of a journey among new scenes; to others these words will bring memories of the greetings of long-absent friends.

But to anyone fortunate enough to have attended a Christmas tree and entertainment at Canadice church 50 years or more ago, I am sure these words will bring memories of those pleasant occasions.

At that time, family Christmas trees were not customary, and the schools had not begun the practice of having them as they do at the present time. So the entertainment given by the Sunday school interested a large number and was anticipated with much pleasure.

Plans began early in the month and culminated in an hour of entertainment, of music and recitations. How the busy people of those days found time to arrange and present such a program, I do not understand.

Two tall, wide-spreading hemlock trees were always secured and placed on at either side of the auditorium. They were always well filled with gifts, even in the top branches. Tables were placed under the trees to hold gifts too large and too heavy to be hung from the branches of the tree.

A wire was stretched between the trees to keep them in position, and was also used to hang small articles from. On one occasion the wire broke, and several ladies who were to receive a pair of vases from their Sunday school teacher were obliged to wait until more could be purchased.

No one was forgotten, from the oldest to the youngest member of the Sunday school, which, according to records, at that time numbered about 100 people. No one grew too old to attend Sunday school then.

Gifts were not wrapped in bright colored paper, as now, but were hung on the trees unwrapped, and much pleasure was afforded the youngsters on the front seats, for during the program they could select a doll, book or sled which they had long desired, and anxiously await the distribution of the gifts. Undoubtedly there were some disappointments when some long-desired plaything was given to another child, and they felt it was a long time to wait until another Christmas rolled around.

Santa often arrived with a jingle of bells late in the evening, much to the delight of the children.

The passing years have brought many changes in the Christmas program. For some years the teachers of the community schools presented their program at the church, which was especially enjoyed. Since closing of the township’s schools, a short program has been given in the church parlors, where one small tree holds the gifts, where in the old days two large trees were needed.

This year the usual custom will be observed on Christmas Eve and the welcome will be just as cordial to any who care to attend as in the good old days.

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