Anna's Christmas

                                                                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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