It was Christmas 1979 and we had just moved to a very rural part of Virginia in October.
Things were very different here than they had been in Maryland but we were so young we hadn’t had time to establish traditions or really understand how different or how similar life was in the country as opposed to the suburbs where we grew up. On top of that, we were poor and the economy was horrible. This was the time of gasoline shortages and rations. The prime lending rate was 17%, and unemployment was around 7%. It would hit close to 10% in the next few years before it began to improve.
There were no Dollar Stores, at least not nearby, in 1979, and even if there were our dollars were too few to splurge on things like Christmas. So this Christmas, in 1979, we had a cedar tree that my (then) husband went to the woods and cut. Cedar smells great but the limbs are not all that wonderful for hanging Christmas ornaments. But that was okay, because we didn’t have any ornaments, not the store bought kind, anyway.
What we did have on our tree that year was strings of popcorn that we had stung ourselves, and chains made with construction paper and other handmade ornaments made with scraps of felt and yarn. Of course, we also do not have any pictures from that year. Film and developing were well beyond our financial reach.
I was reminded of that Christmas so many years ago and the dramatic way life has changed for all of us since then, when I visited a local youth art show. In the entrance-way to the show was Christmas tree, decorated with handmade ornaments. I got some pictures. (Please click on each picture to see the full image.)