Report on Christmas Food
by Amy Hoosier

This is a report on what kinds of food older people used to eat and serve at Christmas time back when they were younger.

Pearl Shawver described her Christmas meals as, “Oh, we had Christmas, most anything we wanted to eat. Ham and have cakes and pies, stacks of pies, mostly pound cakes which are really good. We always had pound cakes, maybe two or three of them.”

Pansy Ball said that her Mother would fix a ham because they raised their own hogs. She said her Daddy would butcher the hog himself and her mother would also make cakes and pies. Eunice Childress said this about her Christmas meals, “Most of the time at Christmas, we raised our own hogs, we’d have some kind of pork and chicken. We raised our own chickens. She (Mom) made angel food cakes for us, and then she’d take the yellows from the eggs and make pound cake and egg nog. We had plenty to eat, but nothing hardly was bought. We raised it mostly.”

Some people have favorite memories of Christmas that revolve around the meals that they ate. Stella Taylor said her favorite memory was, “...The food that we ate and the things that we would have for Christmas dinner which was pies and cakes and chicken and dumplings and green beans and different things that our mother would make.”

Bill Umbarger said that his Christmas meal mainly consisted of, “Ham and, uh, we always had a big old roasted ham, and I don’t know if we ever had turkey in our house or not. We always bought the big old ham, and had ham, and I donut know what all kinds of goodies. It was just all kinds of good things to eat. Just old country cooking. Always had bought custard and coconut cake. We had ham, and gravy, and biscuits. I donut know if we had any, well maybe we had chicken on Christmas and lunch or dinner, whatever. And just regular things to do with it green beans, mashed potatoes, pickles, and cookies and things. We didn’t have much money but we eat good.”

Bonnie Umbarger said, “We always went to my Grandmothers home and ate. There was a big family of them. Grandma always had, usually she always had chicken for dinner and ham, and then she would make cake and cooked just like we do now. Potatoes, green beans, corn, and that type f thing. She made custard, too, to go with her cake that was my favorite dessert I think.”

Here’s what Luke Lambert had to say about his Christmas meals, “The meal depended a whole lot on the weather. Well, generally my mother did a lot of cooking on that fire place, she had an old oven that she baked her cornbread in. Had an old big iron pot that she cooked her beans or cabbage or rudabakers or whatever she was a cooking she cooked them in that. Make that oven cornbread and along about four at suppertime why we'd go out and bring in a dozen or so potatoes. Put the potatoes in the fire place and cover them over with hot ashes. Till you see the steam blowing up out of them reckon they'd be done plum through and they'd bring in a crock of milk. And the butter dish of butter. We set right there before that big old fireplace eat cornbread and butter and cornbread and milk potatoes and butter or whatever was in the pot: beans, cabbage or whatnot. And that was just about as good a meal then than a feller would want.”

Bobby Jo and Peggy DeHart said that it was a Christmas tradition that their family have fried oysters. Fred Blankenship said that they had plenty of good ham and shoulder meat off a hog. He said that they had sausage canned up for them and they raised their own meat. They didn’t buy anything and didn’t have turkey either. Mary Ann Lane said they just got a piece of stick candy for Christmas.

Jewell Spence and Bob Gibson said, “We’d just have like turkey and ham and rolls and cakes and potatoes and sweet potatoes and fruit salad…just anything buddies that she could fix she would…you didn’t starve I’ll tell you that. We had good meals.”

Mrs. Char Shrader said, “ We had a nice Christmas - that was one day that we had special. Dad would always go out and kill a couple hens and mom would dress them and we'd have chicken dumplings plus potatoes fixed whatever way we wanted them and, well, she'd have something like green beans out of the cans, or sometimes she'd cook some of the dried beans, which was then called shuck beans, and some called them "leather britches", and I love 'em. I fix some about every fall for us. Then she baked her own cakes - we had good cakes.”

Blacky Walker said, “We usually had good meals. We’d have turkey. Of course we raised chickens and turkeys back then. Everybody seemed like they’d raise a hog and a cow, a couple cows but we had milk, plenty to eat but we usually didn’t have the money to buy big food items, maybe salt and coffee, sugar, something like that was the biggest thing they bought back then. Everything else was raised and canned. But we always had chicken on our table and or turkey, ham whatever.”

Darnell Miller said, “Well, most of the time we came out here for Christmas. This was my grandparent’s home place, here. Most of the time we came out here for Christmas dinner. We never ate Christmas dinner at home. We came out here. My grandmother would have boiled ham, dressing, almost anything that was growing on the farm. You know. Uh, peas, corn, beans, but yeah. You know. We had a usually a cake for Christmas. Either a coconut cake and then maybe a couple apple pies or something for dessert too. You know. Things of that nature. So, but we always came here for Christmas dinner. We never ate Christmas dinner out the road where we lived. We’d always come out here.

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