The Joy of Christmas Trees – New and Old

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~Burton Hill
Finally with a little help from my youngest grandkids, I got my tree decorated. Isn’t that the way of it? The ones old enough to be real help stop wanting to help with things like this while the little ones who need a bit of extra supervision in their attempts to make the tree beautiful, love helping. Oh well, one broken ornament is a small price to pay for such willing helping hands. I do have to admit that some of the ornaments are bunched together on the lower limbs, but that’s okay too. I’ve never been one to worry about having a perfect tree. 
When I was a kid, we went out and got a cedar tree out in the field. We continued that tradition for a long time after I married. Sometimes the kids and I would go tree hunting. More often, Darrell brought one in that he spotted in the fields. Those cedars smelled great, but dried out so fast and were very scratchy to decorate and even worse to undecorate. So a few years back, I got uptown and bought an artificial tree. Then I bought one of those lighted trees. It was really neat until all the lights started going out. Now it is loaded down with lights, some attached to the branches that won’t work and others strung on over top them. It doesn’t look too bad – from across the room. In the dark. If you’re three. Could be time to go tree shopping again, huh?
Some of the stories readers have sent in when they were entering my Christmas giveaway have talked about the fun of decorating. Here is a story from Sharon about her Christmas that talks about going out to get that live tree.
I grew up in central Pennsylvania to a single mother …  What I remember about the Christmas season was the fury of activity with mom buying gifts and hiding them, Grandma baking and preparing all she could beforehand and Pappy getting ready to chop down the tree and bring it home. I only went out with him a few times, because sometimes he went pretty far into the woods behind our house to find to right one. I think now that he may have already known where the next year’s tree was but being a child I just thought he went out and chopped down the first tree he saw. After all this time had passed, it was Christmas Eve, our big celebration. That is when our tree was put up and decorated. Everyone came Christmas Eve, every year.  … So Christmas Eve became much fun and visiting from cousins you didn’t get to see very often. I guess I was about ten when I realized Christmas was even more special at our house than most, or so I thought. It was also my grandparents’ anniversary. The day they wed and started keeping house to begin their family. 
My Grandma made her dress, crocheted a pale green dress that had a dark green velvet ribbon at the waist and tied at the back with long ties down the back.  She still had the dress, even though she had not worn it for so very long. I used to beg her to let me look at it! Then as years went by, I got to try it on. … I would look in what mirrors we had there and just stare into it, thinking what they may have looked like that day.  … After they married, which I think was the Justice of the Peace, they went to the movies, which was a big thing to do then. That would have been about 1927. 
 … As I grew up to a teenager then into a young adult, their 50th Anniversary was coming around. My one uncle was still single at the time. He bought all kinds of seafood for the Christmas Eve that year. Grandma always made clam chowder, homemade cookies, sponge cake and homemade breads. I loved her white clam chowder and so did everyone else. But that year my uncle bought shrimp, oysters, crab meat.  Everyone from the neighborhood was invited. … What a wonderful time everyone had, neighbors dropping by for a few hours, Aunts and Uncles and cousins stopping in, all staying long and into the night. That year the tree was decorated by not just family but by neighbors too. My mom was always in charge of the decorating of the tree and all the kids were her helpers. Of course the last thing to go on the tree was the star at the top.  
Christmas was always a big to do at our house. It has never stopped being that big celebration for me. As my children and grandchildren have grown and enlisted into the the military and moved to other parts of the country, I still keep Christmas special in my heart and wish my family love, hope, happiness and tell them what family means to me.
As I sit here and recall those times I cry a little. Remembering the little girl who would sneak peeks at her gifts when no one was around, the one who watched and helped Grandma make her famous bread and sponge cake and cookies. Sneaking a taste here and there, with Grandma smiling as I did it and scolding me at the same time…….the fun of having all sixteen cousins running around for one night. 

Hope you enjoyed Sharon’s Christmas story. And isn’t that one of the nicest things about Christmas? That most of us have some good memories to share. Thanks for reading. And thanks for sharing your memories or what you like about Christmas with me.