Merry 1943 Christmas to All!

By all accounts, Christmas celebrations during WWII were very different from the Christmas celebrations of today. Every family was affected, either personally or through close ties, to someone lost in the fighting. There were empty dinner table chairs of loved ones fighting overseas. An feeling of humility and gratitude for God filled the season. Gifts were practical and homemade in most cases. So many factories and material resources were turned over to the war effort that it made buying children’s toys difficult and somewhat lavish.

Dinner tables were also frugal to our holiday meal standards. Though my “Health for Victory Meal Planning Guide” of December 1943 suggests Roast Turkey or Chicken and Dressing with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Creamed Onions, Cranberry Sauce, Grapefruit Salad on Greens, and Refrigerator Rolls, it was not likely that a turkey could be found. First and foremost, the soldiers fighting the war were receiving their meat rations. 1.6 tons of turkey went overseas for Thanksgiving and Christmas demand wasn’t far behind in estimates. More likely, on the home front families were enjoying goose or duck. Wild game did not cost any ration points. Aside from the scarcity, turkey cost $.49 a pound at the A&P. That would be $6.69 a pound in our dollars today.

Moving on to the Cranberry Sauce. My husband loves the gel sort of cranberry sauce; probably only because of that funny “thump” sound it makes when you pull it out of the can correctly. I prefer Cranberry Relish made of cranberries, apples, oranges with the peel left on and sugar. No big deal…we’ll have both, right? Well, the big deal is that a can of Cranberry Sauce would cost us 40 blue ration points! 40 points!! Even if I could see the reason in buying it, I don’t even have 40 ration points left for the month.

It was back to America’s Test Kitchen for a Cranberry Sauce recipe. It’s sitting in the refrigerator jelling some more right now. It looks right. We will certainly find out tomorrow if it wins the husband seal of approval.

All in all, there are many things I took time to think about and appreciate more this year

"Auntie" & Frank in front of their Christmas tree.

“Auntie” & Frank in front of their Christmas tree.

under the restrictions of this WWII food project. My mom’s sugar cookies (she didn’t have rationing in place) tasted incredible this year. I’m embarrassed to admit how many I devoured in a two day span. I decorated my tree with Shiny Brite ornaments listening to Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, and it was wonderful. I made many gifts by repurposing wool sweaters and fabric. And the food for tomorrow’s meal took a lot of careful and thoughtful planning, with lots of mindful meditation to my Grandmothers’ time.

In my Grandmother’s diary from Christmas Eve 1944 she wrote that she was going to sign off and make some Seafoam Candy. I think I’ll do just that.


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