Chocolate Drops and Hardtack
Growing up in a preacher’s family meant that I got in on all the background preparations that went on at Christmas. This was especially true when getting ready for our annual Christmas program.
We lived in a poor coal mining community of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The Christmas program created a special time for everyone, especially the children. They knew that after the program ended everyone got a special treat to take home.
A week prior to the program my father shopped for all the goodies that went into, the Christmas boxes. He came home with a variety of candy, English walnuts, and Brazil nuts. We all participated in the job of sorting the candies and filling one hundred boxes.
The small cardboard boxes came flattened and needed to be pushed into a rectangular shape and closed on one end. The long narrow side had a string inserted so it could be carried like a miniature suitcase. On the outside were colorful pictures of Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, the Shepherds, and the Wise Men. The boxes were about the size of an Animal Crackers box of the past.
On Saturday we all gathered around our big dining room table and began filling the boxes. Into each box we put a couple of chocolate drops, some colorful hardtack, English walnuts, Brazil nuts and Hershey Kisses. We folded and locked the flaps together and carefully packed them into several large cardboard boxes.
As the program commenced, the atmosphere grew tense with excitement. Parents watched their little ones recite their piece, all dressed up in housecoats and holding shepherd staffs. When the program ended, my father announced that we had one last thing to do. Several adults passed out a box of candy, a big red apple, and a big navel orange to everyone.
The service ended and we all went home with a treat and a smile.
Printed in the Old Mountain Press winter anthology 2017
Photo: Dwight L. Roth
I am reprinting my story from last year. It brings back lots of good memories for me and hopefully you will enjoy it as well.