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Boonville Daily News - Boonville, MO
  • Local residents remember a more simplistic Christmas

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  • Hillard and Helen Smith will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary this coming January. While both have lived in the Boonville area for most of their lives, they remember a time when Christmas was celebrated in a more simplistic matter. As the first snow of the season ended early afternoon, Hillard and Helen were enjoying themselves at their new residence at Ashley Manor. Hillard was by the counter mid-afternoon and when asked about a memorable Christmas story, he abruptly said his wife Helen would have one. Helen who is now 92 can remember when candles were placed on Christmas trees instead of electric lights, she remembers when Christmas was "all" about the birth of Jesus. She said her family would do the same thing every year, which included attending church. She said there is not one story that stands out but the times they shared together each Christmas was what she remembered the most.   "While growing up on the farm in Warren County Missouri, Christmas Eve and day were spent together with family. We went to the church programs together. On Christmas Day the whole family had a dinner," Helen said. While attending church, Helen remembers the big Christmas tree decorated with lighted candles. She said they had several men keeping a close eye on the tree so there would be no fire. Although there was a close eye kept on the candles occasionally one would fall.  Gifts, she said, were not a huge part of Christmas. "Each child would receive one gift, not many," Helen said. Hillard and Helen both said gifts were hand made and hardly ever bought at the store.   "It was a lot different than it is today," Hillard said. "Christmas was more about togetherness. Nobody got much and like most, no one had much." This Christmas the Smiths will celebrate it with family. While they remember the days of long ago, they do see that Christmas today is celebrated not too differently than they remember. "We were taught what Christmas really was, the birth of Christ. This is what we were celebrating," Helen said.

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