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When life was simple: For Weber, Christmas was always about family

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In this picture, a 5 or 6-year-old Evelyn Weber is enjoying winter on her family farm, north of Le Mars.
Editor's Note: This story is the fourth in a weekly series looking back at life decades ago and remembering a time when people's lifestyle was very different than today.

In today's world, Christmas has become largely about consumerism. Just turn on your television and count the holiday commercials trying to sell you something that you "absolutely, without a doubt, need" to put under your tree. But back when Le Mars native Evelyn (Pech) Weber was a child, the Christmas season was all about family in her home.

Born in 1921, Weber grew up on a farm in the Seney/Struble area with her parents and two younger sisters.

Evelyn Weber looks at some of the frozen moments from her favorite Christmas memories -- her family.
"We were mostly a stick-at-home family," said Weber, now a resident at Park Place Estates in Le Mars. "When you live on a farm, you can't travel too far. There's always something to take care off."

Among many things, Weber remembered the struggles of milking cows in subzero temperatures and scraping snow away from feed troughs so the cattle could get to it.

The inability to travel did not seem to take a big toll on her family, however. The Pechs' tradition was to gather at her grandparents home, north of Le Mars.

"We always got together at Grandma and Grandpa's house every year," Weber said. "It was a big deal for the whole family. Christmas time was when you got to see all of the aunts and uncles and cousins."

Besides catching up with the extended family, the Pechs would all sit down and enjoy a large meal together, prepared by Weber's grandmother with help from her daughters.

Weber also recalled a favorite dessert at her grandparent's house, even though it was forbidden.

"My grandma would decorate the Christmas tree with homemade cookies," she recalled. "The kids weren't supposed to eat them, just look."

Weber smiled playfully.

"Supposed to," she repeated.

At her parents' home, the first Christmas tree Weber recalled was decorated much differently than her grandparents'.

"Our tree was artificial and had real candles on it," she said. "Our dad let us light the candles on special nights like Christmas Eve and Christmas, but we had to blow them out pretty quickly because of the fire hazard. It wasn't a very big tree."

When asked about the gifts she used to receive for Christmas, Weber couldn't remember many.

"Granddad always had a box of groceries for each family, that was our main gift from them," she said. "I remember getting my last doll one Christmas, that was very special. We didn't get anything very extravagant, not like now anyway. People didn't spend the money like they do now."

Almost all of Weber's Christmas memories circulated around the people she spent them with, from her days as a child to her adult years with her husband, Walter, of 60 years and their children.

The focus was less about the gifts received or the overall busyness the holiday can bring.

"The main thing with Christmas for me has always been being with family -- I don't need presents," Weber concluded. "Going from my grandparents to my parents and then to my house during Christmas, it was always about family more than anything."

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