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Christmas Decorations

Christmas Eve at Carr's Chapel

The one big event of the year has been the celebration of Christ’s birthday on Christmas Eve.  This first celebration was held in the school building in 1905, and everyone was invited.  The church made advance plans for a program and the celebration.  People enthusiastically and willingly lent their talents and capabilities to make the service a success.  One of the problems in 1905 was how to obtain a Christmas tree.  The bald prairies were certainly not noted for producing trees of any kind.  Only through planned planting and care did trees exist.  Fruit trees were planted because of their productivity, and no one wanted to sacrifice one of them.   

Evergreen trees grew below the Caprock but cutting one required a two-day journey by wagon and team.  Mr. Will Baird generously offered to donate one of his mulberry trees, which was gratefully accepted.  Women and children made homemade decorations to transform the bare tree into a thing of beauty.  Gifts were wrapped in the paper from stores and tied with string, which were saved to be used again.  The ladies made decorative sacks into Japanese-style lanterns and other shapes from pieces of paper.  Each child received a sack, which contained an iced tea cake and possibly an apple.  Gifts were usually clothing, although most of the children received one toy.   

The toys were often homemade, nothing like the electronic toys of today.  I remember that a notched spool, matchstick, and a thin piece of soap became a tractor.  In the summer, we made dolls from corn silks and corn cobs.  Large cucumbers with sticks became livestock, and we constructed corrals of sticks and twine.  We used wooden boxes, our most prized possessions, for cabinets, chairs, and playhouses.  If we could find wheels and a piece of rope, we used the box for a wagon.  One might the wagon “one child power” instead of horsepower.  We had tire races and used wheels or hoops as rounders.  Rocks served as buildings or fences, and broken pieces of scraps became plates, food or whatever else we needed. 

The program is presented primarily by the children of the community.  Each child is invited to perform a reading, sing a song, or play a musical instrument. Often the pastor gives a special sermon for the children.  The entire congregation sings favorite Christmas carols, and an offering is taken up for the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco.  The children sing “Away in a Manger,” and the entire congregation joins with the children to sing “Jingle Bells, which ushers in Santa Claus.  The jolly elf presents sacks containing fruit, gum, and candy to everyone.  Next Santa helps to distribute gifts before he leaves to continue his journey around the world. 

The church, when filled to capacity, holds 100 people.  In 1996, the counted attendance was 130. People from a large area attend the service, many of whom come long distances to attend.  The states of Arizona, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado, and Connecticut have been represented.  Some of the worshippers come for the first time; others have been attending for many years.  For three years, a neighbor has brought five little waifs to the 

celebration.  Although the children may be unkempt, they represent the true spirit of sharing.  I am reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:14: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not.”  This year (1996) the children’s mother and uncle came with them.  In 1996, our pastor Rusty McReynolds asked those who were attending the Christmas Eve service for the first time to raise their hands.  He declared these people members of our extended family.   


The program in 1995 began with the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible by Chase Carr, a great-great grandson of the Reverend Carr.  Tonya Marr and Skyler Marr played the piano.  Karson Kraybill, the great-great grandson of another early pioneer family (Gulia Snowgrasses) gave a reading.  Elayne Reid, Karson’s grandmother, read a story to the children while her grandchildren and my great granddaughter acted out the story.  The program also consisted of a men’s duet, prayers, singing, and the offering for the Methodist Children’s Home. Brent Williams and David Carr fifth-generation progeny of the Reverend Carr, took the offering.  

In this same year, several pioneer families were represented.  The Carr family was represented by Gertrude Carr; her son Charles and his wife Ann and children; her son Bill and wife Darlene as well as Bill’s son Nathan.  The Gary family consisted of Blanch Gary Williams; her son and daughter-in-law Elmer Dean and Martha, and their children Todd, Monty, and Chad and their children; Blanche’s second son, Leon and his wife Carolyn also attended, as did Leon’s children, Brent, Daralyn, and Kimber.  Leon’s children are also my grandchildren, who were accompanied by their mother (and my daughter), Sue Williams, from Storrs, Connecticut.  Still other pioneer families in attendance represented the Scotts, the Snodgrasses, and the Millers. Imelda Ramsey and Carolyn Davis were the only representatives of their families. 

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