Christmas of 1863 was a lean one for most Texans.
The Yankees had been blockading the ports for two years and merchants had long since sold down their stocks. Flour was going for $600 a barrel, a spoon-full of sugar would cost you a dollar and butter was $40 a pound.
Coffee couldn't be had at any price. Homemakers tried grinding up scorched corn, okra and even acorns, but you can imagine how that tasted.
Paper of every kind was saved and re-used. Some newspapers were printed on the back of wallpaper.
Even the well-to-do had to make do.
Lucadia Pease, wife of former (and future) governor Elisha M. Pease, was becoming skilled at domestic improvisation. When the slaves needed winter coats, she pulled up the carpets of the Pease Mansion (Woodlawn) to make them.
She learned to spin and dye cloth, render tallow for candles and use native plants to color them.
Mrs. Pease was especially proud of the goats she raised, which provided the family with meat and milk. She learned to make shoes from the leather.
There is some peculiarity of human nature that makes the dearest memories in times of hardship. Young Julia Pease held memories of Christmas 1863 in her heart for all her long life:
"The Christmas tree was just a common cedar, cut by old Tom. Sprawling it certainly was, making it difficult to attach the many bundles done up in wrapping paper and home-made twine. The ladies worked for days stringing popcorn, making cornucopias and pasting on them the bright prints which had been saved for months. My mother cut out a pair of slippers from kid skin and my sister and I embroidered them as a gift for my father. On cloth we did the same for my mother. Hideous things they were, no doubt, but our patience and love redeemed all."