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Cutler Family Traditions

Written by Alice May Cutler, contributed to Family Search by Ted Walker

Cutler Family Traditions
Written by Alice May Cutler, 1976 

           It was traditional for the Cutler children to dry cattails in the greenhouse for several days, then use them as fireworks in the fall dipping them in coaloil and burning them while standing on the roadside, waving them as the passengers in the cars as they drove by. Sometimes the Burton relatives joined in this celebration.

           Saturday preceding Easter the children colored hard boiled eggs, packed a picnic lunch and walked to the "Highlands" (a hill that sloped downward to a freshwater spring or creek filled with watercress and cattails located on their property between 12th and 13th East on 39th South) where they played games, rolled their eggs down the hill and gathered watercress.

           The Christmas season was especially resplendent with family traditions. Candy making- began several weeks before the holiday. Old discarded tin movie film cans were filled with their delectable homemade Christmas sweets; pecan rolls, English toffee, peanut brittle, divinity, taffy, peanut clusters, fudge, caramels, pinochle and homemade chocolates, and placed on the swinging shelf in the middle of the unheated second story storage room.

           Working together the girls and their mother roasted almonds, made the traditional fruit cake and Christmus Plum pudding served with layers of pink, pale green and white hard sauce and mince meat and pineapple pies. Their father brought home the traditional clear transparent red, yellow and green candy animals to hang on the Christmas tree and small toothpick-like boxes of McDonald's Christmas stick candy. Concurrently, the boys were busy at the basement workbench making wooden toys for the younger children. One such year, Douglas mysteriously disappeared to the basement frequently warning his little sisters to stay away as a "live bear lives down there." Left alone, he made the most charming wooden two story doll house ever built which became a most beloved pastime for his younger sisters, Louise and Alice May, in subsequent years. It was of the finest craftsmanship, about four to five feet in length, two feet deep and three feet high with six rooms, each having a closet and doors. A darling stairway led from the first to the second story. It had real windows (with curtains and braided rugs on the floor made for the doll house by their older sisters), a slanted roof with a chimney and in every way delighted the very excited little girls.

Everyone shared in the Christmas preparation.

            The front living and dining room walls and ceilings were cheerfully draped with red and green crepe paper ropes. A large red crepe paper bell hung in the center of each room. The Christmas tree stood by the fireplace in the living room and before Christmas lights, it was decorated with candles.
The children's long cotton stockings hung from the glass door handles of each of the bookcases (there were six or eight glass doors). Fresh mistletoe and holly were in abundance and hung in the center of the double sliding doors between the living and dining room so that one's sweetheart could easily be caught and kissed. They saw to it that the postman received a large box of their homemade candy in appreciation of his services.  

           Starting about 3 a.m. Christmas morning the children would gather on the top steps leading down from the second story landing where they huddled next to the warmth of the radiator, waiting for permission from "Papa and Mama" to enter the living room, around which always hung an aura of mystery and excitement. Finally at 6 a.m. after almost an eternity in spine tingling suspension, the permission came and joy and mirth, laughter and surprises, chatter and excitement followed after the children had managed to scamper over each other in order to be there first. There was no more prolonging the agony; for gifts were opened immediately. Always there was one very special and thoughtful gift for each child among a few other smaller gifts. Their stockings were stuffed with oranges, a special treat not often experienced by the Cutler children in those days, a few nuts and "hard tack" in the toes and feet of the sock. Occasionally someone humorously stuffed in a piece of black coal. They breakfasted early, always eating their oranges, after which they started in on finishing the preparation of the traditional family dinner which was attended by other relatives and close friends of the family. The dining room table was extended its fullest length and set with the finest white linen table cloths, the best silverware and the finest china dishes. Dinner consisted of two or three chickens or turkey, cranberry sauce, fresh pascal celery for which the Cutlers were noted, white and sweet potatoes, rolls, stuffing, lima beans or peas, a fruit salad and the traditional plum pudding and mince meat pies followed by candy and nuts. It was a family day with company coming and going and expressions of good will from neighbors, friends and relatives.

            Of those Christmas holidays the sons-in-law of Ralph and Virginia commented: "I would like to make a statement on Christmas at the Cutlers. When I got acquainted with the Cutlers I was really impressed with the Christmas time. The family put over Christmas like I had never known it before and I really enjoyed it. I had been living alone and kind of batching it before and I surely appreciated it." . . . (Bradford Hatch)

           "One of the things that impressed me most of anything in my whole life that I can remember about the Cutler family is that when my father was on a mission and I was eight years old at that time. . .on New Year's Day, we were invited to the Cutler family home for dinner. This was one of the greatest experiences of my young life. The generosity of the people like this, especially Father and Mother Cutler was one of the most commendable things in peoples' lives." . . . (Joseph A. Gundersen) 

Owner/SourceAlice May Cutler
Linked toVirginia Louise Burton; Ralph Cutler

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