Monday, December 4, 2017

By Pamela S. Meyers

Time has caught up with me this busy month so I'm reposting my December post from last year:

As Christmas day fast approaches, I thought it would be fun to interrupt our tour of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin mansions to time travel back to the town of Lake Geneva in 1933 and drop in on the Alden Family. Meg Alden is the heroine in my book, Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

The Alden Home (an actual house in the town)
I have several cookbooks I used for research when I was writing the book and thought it would be interesting to plan a simple Christmas dinner for the family and see how much it would cost to prepare it. 

The average yearly income in 1930 was about $2000 and by the end of the Depression it was a couple thousand dollars less. Mr. Alden is an attorney and makes an adequate salary for the time, despite having less of a client load than before the stock market crash. Still, the family has had to tighten their budget and that job falls mostly to Mrs. Alden who shops and prepares the meals.
My mom during one of her Depression

Two years ago, she turned part of her lavish flowerbeds into a vegetable garden and cans much of the harvest to sustain them through the winter months. Also, she  picks berries at local farms during strawberry season and brings them home to make preserves.

Sunday dinners usually mean roast chicken that she stretches into two more meals, so for Christmas dinner, she has set a dollar or two aside to splurge on a beef roast at 15 cents per pound. Sounds like a bargain today, but back then a six or seven pound roast costing 85 cents, could easily be a stretch for people on their meager salaries. 

She plans to serve mashed potatoes at 19 cents for ten pounds (She will use the remaining potatoes for other dishes in the coming days.) and green beans  that were canned last August from the summer garden. 

A humorous Christmas card from the Great Depression,
laughingis always better than crying.
Christmas dinner always calls for a special dessert. She hopes to make Mr. Alden’s favorite—a chocolate soufflĂ© if eggs can be found. A dozen eggs costs about 18 cents, but since the grocer buys his eggs from local farmers, cold winters mean fewer eggs because hens don’t lay eggs as much during cold temperatures. 

So far, the cost of the meal comes to $1.22, but other items like milk for the soufflĂ©, coffee or tea, etc. will add to the cost. I couldn’t find prices for those items. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could pay these prices today for Christmas dinner on our current incomes? We can dream.

At the front of Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes is a list of helpful hints. Some may still be useful today! 

What are you planning to serve for Christmas this year and how much do you estimate it will cost? 

Is anyone willing to replicate the meal I just described and calculate how much it would cost today?  

Whatever you plan to do for Christmas dinner this year, I wish you all of God's blessings and a very Merry Christmas! 

Pamela has written most of her life, beginning with her first diary at age eight. Her novels include Thyme For Love, Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (a reissue of Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin), a 1933 historical romance set in her hometown, and Second Chance Love, a contemporary romance set at a rodeo in rural Illinois. Her novella, What Lies Ahead, is included in The Bucket List Dare collection, and another novella, If These Walls Could Talk, was published in May 2017, in a collection called Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection.

Future novels to come include Safe Refuge, an historical romance set in Chicago and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (March 2018), and Whatever is True, a sequel to Second Chance Love (Publish Date TBA)

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