By Kris Leonhardt
“At Bill and Tressie’s, he made a lively dash for the dining room table. Here he found at each place a dinner plate. These plates had been placed there the evening before with the same loving care used by other children who hung stockings by the chimney. The empty plates, like the stockings, waited to be filled by the jolly old elf himself, and that’s just what he did.”
Christmas memories often hold a certain treasure — a rekindling of the warmth and cheer of a simpler time when wonder abounded and loved ones were near. Though the Christmas season seems to refashion itself with each passing generation, Christmas memories produce a time warp, allowing people to escape into a world of nostalgia.
The above excerpt taken from the story “No Stockings to Hang” recalls the Christmas memories of Mary Schmidtke Weber while in her teens. The story is one of the many that will be on display this Christmas season at Marshfield’s Governor William H. Upham House (Upham Mansion).
The theme at the mansion this season is “Christmas Traditions across the Generations.”
“On display will be ornaments and decorations people should remember from their own Christmases past,” said Kim Krueger, coordinator at the Upham Mansion/North Wood County Historical Society. “Artifacts are tangible, and hopefully those on display will bring smiles to people’s faces.
“But, with one particular tree, we want to involve the community’s memories … not merely to decorate the tree at the Upham House but to draw people/families together by remembering the traditions we had as we grew up.”
The project is being coordinated by Don Schnitzler, a member of the North Wood County Historical Society, who is volunteering his time to prepare the museum for the upcoming Holiday Open House on Dec. 5 and 6.
“What I would like to see is a uniquely decorated Christmas tree that serves as a tribute to community members both past and present,” said Schnitzler. “As a community we have many reasons to give thanks. As individuals we can express that thanks by honoring the individuals and traditions that created the community we call home, including the holiday traditions and memories.”
The tree will host an array of memories of Christmases past from a collection of submissions from the community. When possible, photos will be used to help illustrate the remembrance such as the following submission from Pat (Hughes) Passo:
“As a member of a large family, one of the traditions I remember is the Christmas picture always taken of the children. My dad would line us up in order of birth, youngest to oldest. And since I was the oldest, I knew my place at the end of the line. In our youth, that also meant shortest to tallest. As the years passed, we became a little out of whack.”
Coordinators are still looking for more submissions for the tree and are asking community members to bring or send in a memory with a photo when possible. Using the photo or a quote from the story, an ornament will be made to display on the tree.
To submit a story, send it to North Wood County Historical Society, P.O. Box 142, Marshfield, WI 54449 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop it off at 212 W. Third St. in Marshfield.