A 1970s Christmas in Indiana

backyard playhouse 1970s


A 1970s Christmas in Indiana

Growing up in a small southern Indiana town in the 1970s meant lots of things. It meant a fair-to-middling chance for a white Christmas. It meant making gift lists for grandparents from the Montgomery Ward’s catalog. It meant learning my part for the church Christmas program, and it meant very cautiously lighting my candle during the Christmas Eve service while we all sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”


For me, it also meant helping my dad put up the Christmas decorations downtown. As an elementary school principal, my dad did side-jobs like running the timer for high school basketball games and like building apartments in the summers. At Christmas time, he hung the decorations from the light posts in the metropolis that was downtown Seymour. Some of this involved greenery, and some involved large Santa heads. Dad built a wooden “contraption” for the back of his truck, and he drove from light post to light post, stopping for another helper to hang each piece of décor and waiting until I gave him the signal to drive to the next stop, just yards away.


Sometimes, a Santa head was retired due to the abuse of the elements. When that happened, Dad could keep it, if he wanted. That’s how our backyard playhouse came to be graced with this festive bit of the Christmas spirit.


My sister and I pose proudly in front of our little bit of the American dream: she in that familiar coat with the enviable white fur trim on the hood, me proudly displaying the Beanie Baby I’d gotten weeks ago, for my birthday. As usual, one of my knee socks is making a slow but steady descent, and I’ll bet when I got into the kitchen, I’d ask Mom for a rubber band to solve that problem. Behind us, the summer’s garden is lying dormant, waiting for next spring before it leaps to life again.


It looks like the perfect afternoon to spend a few hours inside the playhouse, creating adventures with our Fisher Price Little People – at least, until our hands get too cold. It’s in the 40s, and the playhouse doesn’t have heat!


This season, spend time with some of the Christmas photos of your youth. What memories do you recall? Can you still smell the scents, hear the voices, see the sights that are now long gone?


Merry Christmas to you, one and all!


For more about growing up in a small Indiana town, read Susan’s memoir, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

8 thoughts on “A 1970s Christmas in Indiana

  1. My sister, who turns 40 on Sunday, loved those dolls and her Little People. I was a teen in the 70’s so it was a different world for me. Love seeing the pic.

  2. In my childhood, living on a farm near Huntingburg, Indiana, Daddy would go out on our farm and cut a tree each Christmas. It was lovingly placed in our living room. Daddy was always the one who strung the colored lights on our beloved tree. Then we all would get in on the act of decorating the tree. The final touch was to carefully place silver icicles on the branches. We are a German family and know that Christmas trees originated in Germany.
    Meanwhile in another portion of our large farmhouse, Grandpa and Grandma Schulte would get a dead tree and slowly wrap each branch with white cotton. Later they added lights. Do any of you recall having a cotton wrapped Christmas tree?

  3. I never saw a white cotton-wrapped Christmas tree, so that one is new to me. However, I did have the same knee sock problem as Susan, and I resorted to rubber bands also. Cute picture! Great memory!! Life was so good and simple in those days, well maybe not for the grown-ups. It was definitely a wonderful time for the kids!

  4. How did I forget to mention how much Daddy LOVED our bubble lights?

  5. Your recollections are detailed and well-written. By the way, who is the cute girl in the blue coat???

  6. Susan –

    I loved what you shared on your blog. Great memories of the ’70s! I took a look at your Amazon listing for your book, too. It also looks like a lot of fun. I wrote a book awhile back about growing up in the ’70s and we might have a lot of the same types of memories, although mines more about playing, toys, camping, hiking etc. I grew up Christian, but it’s not the focus of my book…

    Maybe the difference between guys and gals… 🙂

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