Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Landaas family Christmas story

Christmas 2011

The week before Christmas seems a perfect time to share the following story that has been passed down orally from the Landaas family. By the time Petra and Maggie were teenage girls the large Landaas family had fallen on hard times along with many others living in the city of Bergen, Norway. The economic down turn had in part caused the mass exodus from Norway to America by those seeking a better life. It would not be too many more years before Maggie would leave and then Petra to be next followed one by one until the entire family, parents and all nine children, had left their homeland for a new life in a new country.

Petra Landaas, ca 1887

Petra used to say that the one Christmas that she remembered the most and the one that meant the most to her was the year that they had no money to buy presents, or have a tree, or decorate it or anything at all. She and her older sister, Maggie, were the two oldest of all the children and were no longer in school by that time. They were working in the knitting factory located below their apartment. They added their earnings to their father’s to help support the family but there was nothing left over for Christmas. As there were seven younger children Maggie and Petra went to their father and hatched a plan to make Christmas for the younger children.

Knitting factory on the lower level, Landaas apartment on top level

Peder was a woodworker/carpenter who knew he could fashion a small tree out of twigs and scraps of wood so he set about that task. Maggie and Petra collected twigs, little bits of yarn and scraps of ribbon from the factory where they worked and from the streets near their home. Between the father and the two daughters they made and decorated, from all accounts, a wonderful little tree that would amaze and delight the younger children. They pooled all the small change they could find and bought one or two oranges and a handful of nuts that they divided between all the members of the family and that was their entire Christmas.

It was the act of working with their father making something for others together, not expecting anything in return, with the happiness of her younger siblings at that made this Christmas so special creating a memory Petra treasured the rest of her life. She said she never could remember tasting such a sweet orange as the one they had that year.

We all have similar stories. Part of family history is recording and sharing these oral histories so that our children and grandchildren can better know those that have gone before.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

No comments:

Post a Comment