Gift ideas

Christmas souvenirs, gift ideas and an update on the Houma market

We are driving today (writing Friday) to Galveston for the weekend. So, in the interest of making a quick and dirty getaway, I propose to impersonate the Grinch and steal Christmas bits from columns written over three thousand columns ago, in 1992.

Christmas? In the 1990s, many people worried about “putting Christ back on Christmas, and I responded, in defense of Christmas.

“That ‘X’ bothers some people. I think they shouldn’t worry. “Christmas” was in use as early as 1551, three decades before the King James Bible.”

“X” itself is a powerful religious symbol. It abbreviates “XPICTOC”, which is “Christ” in Greek and resembles the cross on which the savior died.

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Very Old Christmas: The late Irma Manuel recalled the 1920s. “We rarely had trees or decorations”, the season centered around the church. “There were a lot of visitors, so they always tried to have a good choice of food. The kids weren’t expecting a lot of toys, but they might get a doll or something, with treats or fresh fruits.”

Fifty years ago, Christmases were slimmer and simpler. Says the late Mae Soudelier, much of today’s glitter was missing, but the old ways were better. “I would like one more Christmas like years ago. We were happy to recycle the things we had around the house. Everything had a good use.

“It occupied our hands and our minds. Today, ready-made things seem to have no value. Most of the time, it is used several times and then discarded; always looking for something new or a bit brighter. Her mother’s long black stockings hanging from the fireplace were filled with fruit, candies, nuts and a toy.

Glass treasures? Rural Christmases were largely homemade, but parents tried to include a store-bought twist. That’s why Chickie Olivier’s grandfather bought two carnival glass vases from the “company store”. He worked on a sugar cane plantation, and it was Christmas Eve before he had any cash.

He bought vases for his children because that’s all that was left. There were other gifts that year, homemade by McMichael’s grandmother, but only these “inappropriate” vases had survived, passed down to Chickie by her mother as family treasures.

Formal Christmas: “My grandfather,” says Marian McMichael, recalling an image from his childhood, “PRESIDED over the table at his house. We children were only allowed to stay in the room if we behaved ourselves. I remember him slicing and serving the turkey, with my grandmother serving the vegetables.”

That grandfather was Allen A. Sanders, who before the Depression owned three plantations in the Montegut area. McMichael was the daughter of the late Terrebonne clerk Randolph Bazet.

Jay LeBouef, who grew up on Ashland Plantation, also remembers skinny family Christmases, often just an apple and an orange in a stocking with a big stick of peppermint.

Plantation management, he said, also provided gifts for young children in Ashland families, usually candies and small toys. He remembers the Chinese ladies from a distribution before Christmas.

Unique gifts for Christmas present: You will find many Christmas gifts at the gallery of the Guild of Fine Arts of Terrebonne, 630, rue Bélanger, in downtown Houma. It is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. There are hand-painted ornaments as low as $5 and affordable works of all sizes in acrylic, pastel, oil, watercolor, mosaics, collage, photography and prints.

Market tips 2021: The downtown Houma market, which is no longer on the site of the seed store in Main et Naquin, should be in the parking lot of the Terrebonne main library every Tuesday (except December 27), from 3 p.m. until nightfall for the foreseeable future. Products, crafts, preserves, baked goods, hot corn, Vietnamese cuisine and more.

The new location is at the far southeast end of the library. Approaching Library Drive, aim for the front door of the building, then turn it counter-clockwise to the end of the lot. For further information: Kati Callais at [email protected], 876-5861, ext. 236. To become a salesperson, call Cheryl Skinner at 860-1790.

Respondent? Contact Bill Ellzey at (985) 381-6256, [email protected] or [email protected]

Bill Elzey