A very Merry Christmas, 1893
That year, Table Rock saw the unveiling of its first public tree
editor's note: In honor of Christmas, we offer this account of a Table Rock Christmas from the 19th century. It appeared in the Mail Tribune on Dec. 16, 1966, in the Tablets column by R.E. Nealon, Mail Tribune Table Rock correspondent. Nealon introduces the story. We wish our readers a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.
The annual Christmas program will be held tonight at the schoolhouse.
We understand there will be the usual Christmas tree and treats and the mistletoe the girls like to walk under. A beautiful little fir tree brought down from the high hills by Orage Houston, of Trail, will be used in a play by the young folk.
The following is a story of Table Rock's first public Christmas tree, written by a person who was present at the unveiling of the tree.
u Table Rock's first Christmas tree
Dec. 24, 1893
Homes in Table Rock were few and far apart, some 12 in what was known as School District No. 44. Most families and farms were large. The unpainted rough board schoolhouse, a building about 16 feet by 24 feet, with four windows and one door, stood on my father's farm, where Sam Glass now lives with his family.
We never had school in the winter time, so the neighbors did not meet together often.
The Holy time was always celebrated in our home, but a Christmas tree was to us unknown. Very early mother would retell the story of the Saviour's birth. We listened with love and devotion while grandmother sang about the star and the angel's song, "Peace on Earth."
Santa, on Christmas Eve, always found our eight stockings (later there were 10) hanging in a row from the mantelpiece and he filled them from top to toe. He also helped himself to a piece of pound cake with "bossing white," and maybe a cookie or two.
One day, to our sparsely settled community a new family came. Church going, religious people, were they. They owned an organ which the young wife could play. The happy day was drawing very near when the kind Mr. D went around his neighbors to propose to them that we have a Christmas tree.
It is difficult now to understand how so much was so quickly done that brought so much happiness and fun. How thrilled were we with childish glee, when we saw our first Christmas tree.
That small board schoolhouse to us that night was a beautiful palace fit for a queen. Beautiful wreaths of evergreen and China lanterns with candles gave out a lovely light. We could see only the top of the tall tree that reached from floor to ceiling. In the front of the room hung a curtain made of bed sheets and behind was the tree, hidden from sight.
When all the families were gathered, our good neighbor read the story from Luke and said a prayer. Our little sister came first, made her bow, and said the Bible verse, "I bring you good tidings of great joy." Then the organ, which had been brought from our neighbor's home, pealed out "Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all."
At last when all the verses had been said with sleigh bells ajingle and fingers atingle, old Santa rushed right in. The curtain went back with a pull and there was the tree laden with beautiful sacks of mosquito netting filled with nuts and plain candy, many tiny candles all aglow, strings of tinsel, popcorn and toys &
8212; dolls for girls, tops, stuffed animals, and guns for the boys, pin cushions, bon bons, tidies, fascinators and breast pins for ladies. For teenagers there were the little plush albums for autographs and for newlyweds, a baby doll to make the audience laugh. It seems to us, no one was forgotten at Table Rock's first Christmas tree.
The audience stood with happy faces singing, "God be with you till we meet again" with a hearty amen. Since that night, Table Rock has always had a Christmas tree.