Turkey and Mistletoe

Dec 22, 2022 by Tempe Javitz
Turkey and Mistletoe

According to my grandmother Jessamine’s letters 
and diaries, Christmas time was full of outdoor 
activities.  First, hunting a Christmas tree, which
usually involved hiking in the hills for a cedar 
tree.  Then Jessamine and the ranch cook got busy 
baking and decorating.  The kids spent hours outside
sledding, skating and making snowmen.  It’s that 
wonderful time of year, and school was out for two


                Mamma decks the halls.           
 How about a bucket for the snowman’s hat?   

                                          And don’t forget to feed the turkey!

        There’s a skating party with the neighborhood kids, but first 
        hitch up the pony.


                             Have you ever played ‘crack the whip’ on skates?

Such a busy period left Jessamine with little time to leave 
us a memory.  However, she noted in early December 1919 that 
a letter had arrived from Annabelle.  Annabelle, her eldest,
was staying in town with her Aunt Elsa for school.  She’s helping
her mother shop early, but complains that prices are very dear.  
The two neckties she bought for her dad and grandfather cost .75
cents each and handkerchiefs are now two for .25 (she bought six). 
As she fetched her home for the holidays, Jessamine rushes to a 
few stores.  There’s little money to spare that year, but she buys
a doll buggy and dolly for little Eileen plus toy autos for Bill
& Torrey.  Candy and nuts for the stockings are at the top of the 
list.  On Christmas day the Spear grandparents arrive with candle-
sticks sporting pink candles for the girls, perfume for Jessamine, 
and a smoking jacket for Will!   However, the best surprise arrives 
in the mail on December 28th.  It’s a package of Schoenhut Toys 
containing a boy doll, a walking doll, a horse, an elephant, a donkey,
a buffalo and a monkey!  Enough to delight her five children.
(Look it up online, these toys are now celebrated antiques.) 
Unfortunately she took no photos of these enchanting wooden toys.

One of my favorite photos from their Christmas times was taken at my
great grandfather Willis Moses Spear’s Bar V Ranch.  Jessamine and Will
were visiting him in 1934 when she caught this lovely scene by the fire.
To my mind this is the best way to end a Christmas day.

                 Willis Moses Spear by the fire.

I’m hoping that your Christmas Day finds you in front of a roaring 
fire in a comfortable chair while someone else is whipping up a 
marvelous dinner—turkey with all the trimmings!  No pardoning of the
turkeys on a working ranch.

Great news for the New Year.  My book about Jessamine and her 
photography will be published in early May 2023 by the South Dakota
Historical Society Press.  Pre-orders will be available about two
months ahead.  I will keep you posted online at https://tempejavitz.com/