Interior of Holy Cross Church chapel in Dundas, decorated for Christmas, about 1890.

Interior of Holy Cross Church chapel in Dundas, decorated for Christmas, about 1890.

The Northfield History Collaborative invites you to take a look at our community’s past – at this time of year, particularly through some yuletide items.

  • This postcard from First National Bank advises customers of 1909 that “the wisest Christmas gift you can make a youngster is to open an account for him.”
  • Lucky Northfield invitees celebrated Christmas Eve 1880 at a ball held in the Lockwood Opera House. The ball, held by the Acme Hose Co., featured firemen in full uniform and cost $1 per ticket. Supper was extra at the Archer House. “Yourself and ladies respectfully invited.”
  • Student newspaper writer Virginia Givens opined in a 1936 Christmas Periscope that “on the whole, fathers get the best time out of Christmas. Father does not need to obtain any Christmas presents for the children because that is his wife’s job … The one present he might have to purchase — Mother’s — he usually tells his secretary to get for him.”
  • “‘What a wonderful Christmas we had,’ Alice’s mother told the workers of the Northfield Welfare board who were responsible for the basket and all the good things it contained.” Read more about this Great Depression-era story here.
  • Soldier Walter Hughes wrote home to his parents in Northfield during World War II that great gifts for those serving overseas included shaving cream, razor blades, heavy cotton sweat socks, rounds of 50 cigarettes, a skating cap for under helmets, and candy bars and cookies if sealed into a tin can with scotch tape.

Finally — though you can see more Christmas at the Collaborative here! — is a solemn poem printed in the Northfield News on Christmas Eve 1942: “To The Fighting Men on Christmas Day” by St. Olaf professor George Weida Spohn.

You will not hear the bells on Christmas day,

Or see the glitter of the lighted trees,

Or join the loved ones in your families

In song and prayer, in festive cheer and play.

You only hear what thundering guns may say

And see their muzzles flash on lands and seas,

See blood and hear the shrieks of enemies,

The sights and sounds which mark this global fray.

Beyond this fury lies a patch of earth,

Your home of yesterday, but fresh and clear

As of to-day. From it will drift to you

Sweet memories, almost as old as birth,

An unheard Voice which bids you have no fear,

An unseen Face which dooms the dismal view.