Prairie Pioneer Christmas

KAREN DREVO of the Norfolk Public Library plays a comb harmonica at the Prairie Pioneer Christmas on Saturday morning in Norfolk. 

Forty children from the Norfolk area experienced Christmas as a pioneer last Saturday.

On Dec. 8, the Norfolk Public Library hosted A Prairie Pioneer Christmas, where children ages six through 12 years old from Norfolk and the surrounding area were invited to take part in an old-fashioned Christmas.

“Not only did the children who attended have a great time, but many of the parents and grandparents who brought them to the event stayed to help and participate, as well, making it a fun and memorable event for three generations,” said Karen Drevo, youth services librarian who organized the event.

The activity-filled morning included an opportunity to make homemade butter and to eat the homemade butter on johnnycakes. They drank hot spice cider, sampled real gingerbread and learned how to play cats cradle. Children also made Christmas ornaments from paper, comb harmonicas, paper sack wreaths, yarn dolls and button whirligigs.

Drevo, who dressed in period costume with others at the library, said the goal of hosting the Prairie Pioneer Christmas was to get children to have fun while also sparking their interest in stories and books about pioneers.

“Maybe it will inspire them to — on their own — make some of these pretty things as simple gifts from the heart and have an appreciation for the simple things without the technology,” she said. “You can make some beautiful things very simply.”

Drevo said the idea to host the event came several years ago from the Laura Ingalls Wilder book “Little House in the Big Woods,” which has a section that talks about Christmas as a pioneer.

In the past, the library had called the event “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas” but now opts to call it the Prairie Pioneer Christmas because the author has “fallen out of favor” in certain literary circles, Drevo said.

Earlier this year, the author’s name was stripped from a national literary award by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, because of complaints of racism in her stories.

The library had not hosted the event for the past two years because of the construction and renovation that was taking place at the facility, but Drevo said she was excited for it to start up again.

The event was a hit and will continue in the coming years, Drevo said.

“We are already making plans for another Prairie Pioneer Christmas event for December 2019, making this an annual event,” she said.

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