For brother and sister Beth Siemens and Henry Klassen, Christmas was a time for family. It was a simple time and while they didn’t have much, they had fun.
The two grew up on a farm near Munson. Henry was the only boy with five sisters, which means Henry might have been a little spoiled.
“He never scrubbed a floor,” Beth laughs, I said to dad, ‘why doesn’t he have to do anything in the house? We have to go out and milk cows, and haul water, but he doesn’t have to do house things.’”
Kidding aside, the pair has fond memories of Christmas.
Henry remembers the Christmas tree was lit with wax candles and provided a warm atmosphere.
Beth’s favourite memories are of Christmas Eve, especially if they were snowed in.
“I especially liked Christmas Eve, when it was bitter cold or we had a storm, we would stay home. The tree was decorated already and we would just sit in the front room. The heater was on to keep us warm and we would sing Christmas carols in German and my dad would read the Christmas story,” she said. “This is my nicest memory of Christmas.”
Henry and Beth say they were poor as church mice but they always received a gift.
“We never got much. We had one toy each. We never hung a stocking. We each had a spot where we would sit for dinner, and that’s where we would put our Christmas plate the night before. When we went to bed we could hear mom downstairs pouring some nuts and candy on to our plates, and we were so tempted to go downstairs,” Beth said. They would never wrap the gifts, we each had a gift and it was laying beside our plate.”
Beth and her sister would always ask for a book.
They went to Morning Glory School and Henry remembers his teacher very well. She was very musical and the class would perform well at local music festivals and in Calgary. Christmas Concerts had lots of music plays and recitations.
He adds there were six families in the area that would attend church at Christmas.
For Beth, times were simpler.
“I think in our day we were often happier with one gift, a book or a toy, It wasn’t the number of gifts that made us happy, Everything was just about family.”