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Christmas Gifts


The nature of the Christmas gift has changed over time. In the 19th Century novel "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge's clerk Bob Cratchit only wanted some extra coal and food for his family.

Another famous story of Christmas gifts first appeared in December 1905, written by William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry. In "The Gift of the Magi" a young woman, Della, cuts and sells her long hair to purchase a Christmas gift for her husband, Jim – a chain for his pocket watch. Jim, on the other hand, had sold his watch to buy Della combs for her hair.

Today, trees are displayed replete with piles of presents. Black Friday, the “first day of Christmas shopping,” is often celebrated as much as Thanksgiving, the holiday it follows. And in 2005, Cyber Monday emerged – the big online shopping day after the Thanksgiving weekend. So, Christmas shopping has long been a part of the season, whether by computer, in stores, or by catalog.

On this date in 1919, the Hope Pioneer newspaper in Steele County urged its readers and last-minute shoppers to take advantage of newspaper ads, stating: "Holiday buying is greatly facilitated where people study newspaper advertising in advance. If they go to the stores without much idea what they are going to buy, it takes a lot of looking and questioning before they make up their minds. If they have read the advertising carefully, they have a clear idea what they want. They should be able to say, ‘Let me see that article you advertised in The Pioneer, I think it is about what I want.’"

Of course, the Pioneer also encouraged its readers to use proper manners:

"People should do their Christmas shopping in a patient and good tempered spirit. They must remember that clerks at that time are tired and flustered, and can't be expected to always manifest a perfect disposition. Some people get all out of temper if they are delayed in being waited upon. If they find themselves tempted to say a sharp word, they should reflect that if they had made their purchases a month ago, they would have secured better attention. Defects in store service are due to the failure of the public to anticipate its wants."

Always good advice.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


The Hope Pioneer, December 18, 1919, p1