How did John and Annie Bidwell celebrate Christmas? Well, for one thing, it didn’t go on all month like it does for us. Bidwell doesn’t usually mention Christmas in his diary entries until a few days before December 25th.
For instance, here is Bidwell’s diary entry for December 22, 1873:
Mon. December 22. Began laying foundation to green house – Bought presents for S.S. Scholars- Dana C. Pearson called – and I subscribed to “Crofutts Western World” and got picture (Am Prayers) – Wife fixing Christmas tree – Sore from cold –
So three days before Christmas Bidwell is working on his usual ranch business (even though he is “sore from cold”), they go shopping for gifts for the children at the Presbyterian Church (the Sunday School scholars), and a salesman calls and he subscribes to a magazine and purchases a picture. Annie is busy trimming the Christmas tree. Rather than have the tree up for several weeks like we do, it is only up and decorated for a few days before and after Christmas Day.
Crofutt’s Western World, by the way, was a periodical (as it said on the masthead), “devoted to the railroad and kindred interests of the Great West; and to information for tourists, miners, and settlers beyond the Mississippi.“