By Anna Thwing Spaulding
Our family consisted of my father, mother and a sister and brother. We were living in a double
house on Church Street [Milford] where there were only four houses then. From our house to
the Congregational Church there were open fields.
My Christmas began before daylight when three children strode quietly downstairs to see
what was in their stockings fastened to the shelf in the sitting room. We soon heard, "I told you
not to get up until light," but like most parents they couldn't be firm on Christmas Day and they
soon joined us. You all know the excitement that followed. Those simple little gifts bought for
each other and hidden away for weeks meant just as much then as the expensive gifts of
today. I never had over a dollar with which to buy presents for all my relatives and friends. For
Grandpa I always bought "The Old Farmer's Almanac," price ten cents.
Christmas was always spent at Grandpa [Almon] Thwing's in Hopedale with the Field family.
There was a sharp, steep hill there and our horse, "General," took it like mad up to the side
door. There stood Grandma, sweet and serene as always, while each child tried to outdo the
other, calling "Merry Christmas." Soon the Field family arrived - five of them, with more
excitement and more gifts. During the forenoon we would see the village folk passing, carrying
gifts to the old church. Some had clothes baskets full. These were to be exchanged when we
had the tree service.
After a turkey dinner of which twelve of us ate until we could eat no more, we all went to the
church. There on the platform would be the biggest, tallest Christmas tree I've ever seen
indoors, loaded with wonderful looking packages and the floor piled high with them. With eyes
popping I had to sit through a service conducted by saintly Adin Ballou. His hair was too long
for present style, and white as snow. I remember that he wore a cap on the street in winter and
I also recall that he whistled through his teeth when he prayed, which I found fascinating.
After the service those hundreds of presents were given out, and I would sit on the edge of the
pew waiting to hear "Annie Whitney" called as my grandparents always took things to the
church for us. After all these seventy years I can see William Draper (later the General), George
[Albert] Draper, Eben Draper, Frank Dutcher and Eben Bancroft (all young men) taking turns
calling out the names. This took several hours.
Then back to Grandpa's for a delicious supper at which quincesauce was always served
made of quince from the bushes there on the place. Grace Mayhew and I each have to this day
one of the little sauce dishes. After the supper was cleared away, once more we trudged down
to the church to see a play in which the Bancroft sisters and the young Draper brothers always
starred. The outstanding thing in one of these plays was the shutting in a box of Lura Bancroft
who was later Mrs. Charles Day.
By the time the play was ended, a tired but very happy little girl was glad to be tucked under
the old fur robe and driven back to Church Street, to be again tucked in. Milford Daily News
At one time I thought that Anna was the daughter of Susan Thwing Whitney.[ See Hopedale
Reminiscences Menu for links to stories of life in the Hopedale Community by Susan and her
sister, Anna Thwing Field.] However, this below from the report for the Harvard Class of 1893,
printed in 1899, may give more of a clue as to who she was. Anna isn't listed, but it seems
likely that she was born after 1899.
HARTWELL BALLOU SPAULDING.
Is superintendent and salesman for the firm of Nelson & LaDow at Upton, Mass. Married
December 6, 1894, at Milford, Mass., to Anna Thwing Whitney. Child: Almon Whitney
Spaulding, born September 30, 1895.
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