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Celebrating Christmas on 12-12-12

Cooper Middle School Chorus & Orchestra performs in the Great Falls Historical Society event.

Cooper Middle School students sing Christmas Carols at the concert held at the historic Great Falls Grange on Dec. 12.

Cooper Middle School students sing Christmas Carols at the concert held at the historic Great Falls Grange on Dec. 12. Photo contributed

The Great Falls Historical Society delighted in the Christmas Carols sung and played by Cooper Middle School students at our Old Fashioned Christmas held at the historic Great Falls Grange on Dec. 12. The energetic and spirited music teachers and talented students filled the hall with warm holiday cheer and good tidings.

The GFHS Board prepared some desserts, punch and warm apple cider, using historic recipes from our local Great Falls cookbook.

Highlighting local tradition, it is important to recall the Christmas holiday as celebrated in days gone by:

In the late 1890s, there was no electrical power or running water, no car or bus—everyone was restricted to travel by horse, foot, or boat. All of the historic recipes were from this time when cakes and cookies were cooked on wood stoves, and there were not temperature or time limits identified. Great Falls was an area of very large farms with farmhouses set far apart from each other. It was common to find intermarriage among neighbors, with most local families being related to each other in some way. A Christmas gathering in the 1890s would most likely be a gathering of family and relatives.

Celebrating Christmas in the Great Falls Grange in 1929 would have been a very joyous occasion, attended by a room full of local dairy farmers and their families. Dairy prices had begun to erode since 1920, and Great Falls farmers banded together to join the national grange movement and worked to gather money for and build The Great Falls Grange, which opened in 1929, a crowning achievement of their mutual cooperation and team effort.

Celebrating Christmas on 12-12-12, we were cognizant of our freedom as expressed in the chorus and orchestra before us. Our community at the grange that evening was a medley of students and their families from many nations, cultural backgrounds, and religious beliefs. Breakthroughs in transportation have made it possible for us to move to different cities, towns and continents to pursue our gifts, develop our creativity, and reach our highest potential. This blessing of vast possibility requires our best effort in defining a future grounded in sound values, noble purposes and a willingness to join together in forming a thriving creative community.