An Earlier and Simpler Time

Real Estate Agent with Dirt Road Real Estate SA676002000

As a young child I had the opportunity to spend several Chirstimas’s on my grandparent’s farm in northern Wisconsin. What I remember is stringing popcorn and cranberries with my Swedish grandmother on the freshly cut pine tree which was placed on the recently in the small living area.  The lights were actually small candles with a clip to be attached to the branches. My father would add the angel to the top of the tree.  Then my grandmother would carefully light each candle. 

There were some gifts under the tree.  Yet what was even more present was the simple joy of being together, singing a few carols and quietly enjoying the light from the candles.

Christmas morning Santa would somehow magically know we (my sister and myself) weren’t at home.  My grandmother would have already been up making breakfast and draining the fat from the Christmas goose.  Then there would also be the Yule Ham or Julskinka. This ham was put into a brine in which it laid for a couple of weeks. 

Of course, there were Swedish spritz cookies that melted on your tongue with the first taste.  How my grandmother cooked all these delicious eats on a wood burning stove still amazes me.  I do remember my father cutting kindling wood outside in the cold northern winters.  The wood burning stove was the only heat in the small main cabin.

The family farm living quarters consisted of the main cabin which was very small (two rooms) and about 50 feet away a second cabin for sleeping. The sleeping cabin had 2 rooms along with a pull out couch. There was a chamber pot for anyone who had to answer a call of nature in the middle of the night.  Given the outhouse was a couple hundred feet away and it was very cold with sometimes blowing snow not to mention all the wildlife, the chamber pot was a very welcomed solution.

Today with all the artificial trees, the extensive decorating of homes both inside and out, the mounds of presents, thinking about my early childhood and spending Christmas at the family farm brings an appreciation for that simpler time.  I ponder what have we lost through the decades and even more important will we ever learn the essence of those earlier Christmas celebrations and experiences? Maybe that is why I gravitate towards a small tree and must have those artificial canldes to remind me of those incredible family gatherings at the farm.

My thanks to Carol Williams and Anna Banana Kruchten CRS CRB, Phoenix Broker for providing this opportunity to share my youthful Christmas experiences.


Posted by

Leanne M. Smith, MS, GRI, rCRMS

2018 KGVAR Rookie Realtor of the Year-55+
219.508.2859 MST
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Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Good morning, Leanne Smith christmas is surely commercialized compared to the past.... decades ago, Christmas was a loving, family affair with traditional food and other family traditions....

what's missing the most today for me is the "simple joy of being together"..... soooo sad to not have that today during this pandemic.... everyone is in their own home as opposed to gathering at one designated home to celebrate together..... I will miss that sooo much.

Dec 18, 2020 05:19 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Leanne - I have been to Northern Wisconsin and the first thing I thought was a Christmas there must be extremely cold.   Brr.  Family togetherness is a nice memory as well as a necessary one.  A nice memory.  

Dec 18, 2020 05:30 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Such lovely, lovely memories of old-fashioned and simpler Christmas celebrations, Leanne. Even though I spent none on any farms, I can related to so much of the rest of your memories. However, I admit to loving my Christmas trees and have ornament collections for four of them.

Dec 18, 2020 05:53 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Leanne,
I think, as we get older and lose loved ones, those simpler times become even more precious.  Thank you for sharing your memories. 

Dec 18, 2020 06:52 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Years ago so many of us had what would have been a rather simple tree just because it wasn't the focus.  What was put on the tree brought it to life as well as the presents that were carefully bought and placed beneath that tree.

Dec 18, 2020 07:09 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morning and Merry Christmas Leanne Smith sounds like some wonderful memories.

Dec 18, 2020 07:13 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Leanne Smith - a lot of similarities with German and Swedish.  Yes spritz cookies too but we also have pfeffernüsse and Springerle.  As far as the candles on the tree I only saw that with our friends in Germany.  They still do it.  Those are done on tree with strong branches.

Dec 18, 2020 07:21 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

What a lovely memory of your Christmas at your Grandparents farm when you were a young girl Leanne Smith ! Simplier times often times bring back the most sweet thoughts.  Enjoy your Christmas this year!  Merry Christmas!

Dec 18, 2020 09:39 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

What beautiful memories. It's truly not about the gifts, but is about togetherness and traditions. Thank you for sharing!

Dec 26, 2020 06:02 AM
Debb Janes
Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
Put My Love of Nature At Work for You

Your Christmas past sounds simply perfect. My dream is to be in a big ole snowy cabin or lodge with all of kids and grandkids around. That is ideal for a Christmas celebration in my book.  Actually, just having the kids and grandkids around in any setting will be great after this year. :) 

Dec 26, 2020 07:52 AM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Leanne Smith  what fond memories you had on the farm -so glad Carol Williams featured this as I missed it 

Dec 26, 2020 10:29 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

What fond memories of Christmas past, Leanne! It's fun to read about other people's traditions, and to reflect on our own!

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!


Dec 26, 2020 01:20 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great job on the feature this week...well deserved!

Dec 27, 2020 07:02 AM