1913 December 25, First Christmas at Starr Commonwealth
The calendar the first year was not kind to UncleFloyd. Hardly had he settled his household in Gladsome Cottage when the holidays were upon him.Thanksgiving arrived so quickly it was barely acknowledged, but Christmas was another matter. Starr recalled later, “It was all we could do to find food and clothing for our growing family. As the Christmas celebration, we couldn’t see what we were going to do about it, forcertainly not one of us had any money for giving gifts. Any yet, Christmas there must surely befor twenty-two small boys.”
By a quirk of fate, a Mr. Wiley Reynolds of Jackson dropped in at theCommonwealth in early December “to see how the new boys’ venture around the hill was faring.” Finding the school was “very merry as to spirits but a little lacking in gifts,” he left soon but promised to return.Uncertain what his promise implied, the entire household went ahead with its own plans.. “Of course we had a tree,” Starr said later. “Out to our woods we went, Druid-fashion, to cut it down… To decorate our tree, we made popcorn and cranberry string, festooning the red and white loopsagainst the green of the pine.” With the aid of the kitchen crew, the boys helped frost cupcakes with red and green icing and polished apples to set at each place around the two tables.Everyone it seemed, was determined that it be a festive day.
Just before Christmas, Mr. Reynolds returned, this time with “everything one could think of to make the boys’ Christmas a happy one: A gift for every boy and worker; a huge, red-ribboned basket of fruits and jams and jellies; a turkey, cranberries, nuts and candies for all of us.” Such bounty none of the boys had ever known, and it was a merry lot that sat down to Christmas dinner. Afterward everyone trooped intothe living-room to gather around the tree and take turns opening their surprise gifts. At last, as a red winter sun slipped beneath the horizon, Aunt Harriet led her flock in singing the few carols the boys knew; then it was off to prayers and bed. It had been a joyful dayafter all. Indeed, Starr said many holidays later, “We had one of the most wonderful Christmas Seasons then I have ever enjoyed.”
Source: Keith Fennimore. FaithMade Visible: The History of Floyd Starr and His School. Albion, Michigan:Starr Commonwealth. 1988.