Approximately three years ago a Christmas Eve service was being planned at the St. John's Lutheran Church in Stone's Prairie. Some of the older members of the church were asked to write about a Christmas they remembered from their youth. The stories were to be read at the Christmas Eve service.
The following story was submitted and read by Velma Rehwinkle. This particular Christmas story would have taken place in the 1920s.
"This is a Christmas I remember when I was a little girl. Several days before Christmas, Papa brought home a Christmas tree from the field. It was a cedar tree, and not too large. We strung popcorn on string to make garlands, and cut strips of paper, which we colored and glued to make rings, which were strung together to make more garlands. Candles were attached to clothespins, which were clipped to the branches of the tree. Christmas Eve was the only time we lighted the candles, when they were closely watched to avoid a fire.
Several days before Christmas, five little girls couldn't find their dolls. We were so sad. Mama and the older sisters had them making new clothes for them, and Papa made five little doll beds for them. Mama made little mattresses for them with old pillows.
Now came Christmas Eve, and we went to church, as we always did. We came home, everyone with a sack of candy, and we kids sat at the big table and ate candy, apples, oranges and nuts, which Papa cracked for us. The oranges were especially good as we seldom had any. And we watched the lights burn on the Christmas tree. What a great time we all had!
Then cam Christmas morning, and five little girls were so happy to find their dolls sleeping in their new beds with their new clothes underneath
Prayers were said, God was so good to us. Then we got ready and went to church, and came home for dinner. We usually had a goose for Christmas dinner. No one we knew had turkeys back then.
We also had church the following day, two days of Christmas. We always went all three times, Christmas Eve, Christmas day and the second day of Christmas.
I thank God for so many wonderful Christmases, and for helping me remember them."_ _ _ Velma Rehwinkle, November 2009.
Velma was born Velma Casper on Feb. 24, 1920. She had a twin sister, Della, and they had nine sisters and one brother.
The family lived on a farm four miles west of Purdy in the Stone's Prairie community. The one brother was second to the oldest and was killed in a hunting accident at age 15. Out of necessity, the women of the family grew up doing all of the common farm chores.
Velma went to school at Henneman rural school, located approximately one mile north of the family farm. Her last two years of education were at St. John's Stones Prairie Parochial School where she finished the eighth grade.
Velma married Earl Rehwinkle in 1942, and they moved to the farm one mile west of Purdy, where she still lives today. Her husband died in 2009.