Reflections looks back at the celebration of Christmases past in the Sumter community as well as yuletide observance on Shaw Field during World War II. This article invites readers to look at the problems confronting the community as it prepared for St. Nick's arrival. Information and photos used in preparing this article were obtained from The Item archives. Some editing was required.
One of the problems confronting the citizenry in 1931 involved the usage of Christmas lights.
"These lights, which had been a feature of the Christmas season in Sumter for several years, were owned by the merchants of the city and were stored carefully each year after they had been used."
The merchants were responsible for raising the necessary funds required to pay for having these lights strung and replacing those broken.
"No trouble had been experienced in past years in raising the necessary money, as all the merchants realized what a great attraction the lights were during the Christmas season."
"The question of closing for two days for Christmas in '31 was discussed, and it was finally decided to leave this matter to the individual merchants, or groups of merchants, to settle later. The merchants involved decided that after Dec. 1 each merchant was to decide on his daily closing hour and stay open as long after 6 p.m. as they wished."
Ten years later, upon the heels of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an open letter was written to the then public political scene. This letter was written to promote hope and inspiration to a frightened populace.
"Christmas, the festival dedicated to peace and goodwill to all men, is with us once again, and in this broad and beautiful America of ours, there is goodwill and peace among all the peoples of all states although war is occurring in more than half the world. For this measure of domestic peace and safety and the blessed privilege of observing this Christmas season as customary by our fathers and fathers' fathers, we should be profoundly and devoutly appreciative.
"In this spirit, we extend to the people of Sumter our annual message of good cheer and sincere wish for a happy Christmas in every home and by each person, old and young, in Sumter Let us all make this Christmas a happy festival for ourselves, our families and our neighbors.
May God Bless America and every one of our people. The City of Sumter, F. B. Creech, P. J. Gallagher, H. A. Moses, J. A. Raffield "
Three-quarters of a century has passed since this open letter of encouragement appeared in The Item. Our nation has faced and continues to face international conflict and civil strife.
Nevertheless, the message of deliverance and peace found inscribed long ago instills hope generations later. We wish our readers a joyous holiday season and look forward to a happy and prosperous new year.