Every year, the Library of Congress decorates the Great Hall with a tall tree for the holidays, replete with lights and ornaments for the enjoyment of visitors.
Zelma Cook of Tryon, N.C., recalls her first Christmas tree and holidays spent with her family and the mill workers of the village in this excerpt from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940.
“Christmas we always had a big tree. The Company did that for us. My, but it was always a grand affair. We didn’t just gather and sing songs and then maybe get a bag of candy and an orange. We had toys and everything else. There were plays and songs as well, and after that, when we’d all been given our presents, we had hot chocolate and fancy cakes before we went home.”
“I’ll never forget how scared I was when Pa took me to the first Christmas tree there in our little church. That tree just jumped at me as I went in, it was so bright and wonderful; the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life.”
How do you celebrate the season? More holiday history from the Library of Congress can be found here. Merry Christmas!