Alfred Duryee Guion
December 30, 1945
A CHRISTMAS REPORT FROM TRUMBULL, CONNECTICUT
To loved ones in
Europe, Asia and Alaska, U.S.A.
(As an observer on the scene we shall try to bring you a comprehensive account of the day’s doings, realizing that much of the true spirit of the season refuses to be captured and confined to paper by mere words.)
Christmas Eve. I had not been feeling too energetic for a week or more due to the enervating effects of a cold. Then, too, for many years past, as Christmas Day approached, the burden of the responsibility for the multitude of “must” things to be done seemed to pile up to the point where much of the peaceful spirit appropriate to the season was snowed under by considerations of tree trimming, stocking filling, giftwrapping, food arrangements, home decorations, cleaning up, and a hundred and one other last-minute jobs that left one little time for serene contemplation of the great day and its proper impact upon children. So it was with sincere relief that I saw this year all these burdens taken over by younger and more energetic hands, and never a doubt or worry arose to the efficient way in which all necessary arrangements would be taken care of. And my confidence was fully justified. Tree bought, set up, tastefully decorated; stockings filled and “hung by the chimney with care”, dinner arrangements taken care of, house cleaned up and bearing a jaunty festive holiday air that I must leave to your imagination. The tree this year was located just inside the alcove archway on the north wall, just adjacent to where the floor lamp usually stands. During the evening Anne, (Peabody Stanley and her son and daughter) Don and Gwen first arrived, three wise men of legendary fame bringing their gold, frankincense and myrrh in the shape of a huge pile of boxes containing plum pudding and bottles of the necessary “spirit” to make that blue flickery flame so typical of a Christmas plum pudding. Later Elsie (Duryee, Grandpa’s sister) arrived fresh from conquest of numerous holiday customers in the Grand Central, adding a “light” touch to the festivities by her contribution of big fat red holiday candles. And outside the weather was behaving in typical Christmas manner, white snow mantling the green trees and fences and making the glowing logs and the big living room fireplace all the cozier for the bluster outside. There was so much to see and do and talk about that I am afraid I did not get to bed very early, but at that, I left the younger ones still carrying on. Lad had taken Anne and Gweneth over to Biss’s for the night while Don slept in the attic and Elsie slept on the living room couch — unofficial guard of tree and stockings. Gradually however the radio left off its caroling of the old familiar Christmas hymns (interspersed with Rinso White, happy little wash day song, and such like), and eventually all “had settled our heads for a long winter’s nap”. However, the “clatter” which then arose, according to the old and beloved verse, did not materialize until later the next morning when the younger Stratford contingent arrived, but that account belongs more properly to Christmas “Day” then to Christmas “Eve”, to the account of which we will now proceed.
Christmas Day. We all slept late the next morning, there being no little pattering feet of fond memory to rouse us from well-earned rest by insistent clamoring in the gray light of dawn to find what Santa had left in the bulging stockings that hung so invitingly on the bedpost. After a desultory breakfast by stragglers undertaken in
Christmas Report – page 2
leisurely manner, the day really began with the arrival of the Zabel’s (Elizabeth Guion Zabel her husband, Zeke, and two sons, Raymond Jr. (7), and Marty (5)) and Stanley’s from Stratford. As you may imagine it was not long thereafter that the two youngest members insisted that the stockings be taken care of. The usual procedure, which you so well remember, then followed with all of this in the living room, the tree in the background with attractively wrapped gift packages piled high around its base, giving promise of even better things to come. Tangerines, nuts, candy bars, lollipops, etc., having been customarily disposed of, there then ensued a brief interval during which dinner was started, repairs to broken airplanes, which the two youngsters had received in their stockings, and which were greatly enjoyed by the “big” boys, in the course of which, under the guise of showing Butch and Marty how they worked, Don (Stanley, son of Anne (Peabody) Stanley, Arla’s younger sister) and Lad and Zeke and Dick illustrated several crash landings with the inevitable toll to wings, tail, nose, etc. It reminded Don of the time his father had given him an electric train for Christmas and was then forbidden to touch it while Fred (Stanley, married to Anne (Peabody) and Grandpa (Kemper Peabody, Building Inspector for the New York Central Railroad, father of Grandma Arla), who was of course an enthusiastic railroad man, played with it most of the day while Don sat and looked on.
Finally we got around to the big event — distribution of gifts. Again, we were seated in the living room, I in the entrance to the alcove, Marty passing me the gifts and Butch distributing them to the proper party. As usual, I think that each one felt that he had been particularly fortunate in the gifts bestowed upon him. I can only speak for myself.
Because this is a 7-page letter, this week’s posts will be longer than usual but I certainly think you will enjoy them.