Monday, December 7, 2009

The Legend of the Christmas Tree

I don’t really know anything about any Christmas Tree legends; I just thought that it would be a "catchy" phrase to introduce this blog. I think that I read somewhere once upon a time that decorating evergreen trees was a heathen practice of some kind but I don’t actually know anyone I consider a heathen and almost everyone I know puts up a Christmas tree and I pretty much just associate with Christian folks so I won’t label the practice a heathen tradition, but I don’t see any real connection with prettified cedar trees and the birth of Jesus but it does make a convenient place to put Christmas presents under so I don’t object to them. The first Christmas tree that I remember was at the old Forester School. Our family lived at Forester back the 1940's and my brother Wayne started to school there in 1948. The Forester community held a Christmas program at the school each year back then and Santa always showed up and gave out presents to all the kids that came to the program. I was too little to go to school back then but somehow Santa knew that I was present and called my name and I got a toy just like all the other kids did. We all got bags of Christmas candy too. I don’t remember that we had a tree at our house back then but we may have. We moved to Heavener in1950 and we always had a Christmas tree each Christmas season there. We never had any tradition about us all going into the woods and cutting down a tree and hauling it home. My Dad always took care of that chore. My Dad, George Kelley, was an avid quail hunter and each year on one of his many quail hunts a few days before Christmas, he would find a suitable tree and cut it and bring it home. We never had anything but a small cedar tree and certainly never had a plastic tree. We would put the tree that Dad brought home up in the living room and hang "icicles" and strings of shiny rope around it and then patiently wait until December 25 to see if any presents showed up under it. Some always did. Usually new shirts that Mother had sewed for us and maybe a small toy or two for each of us. My Grandfather, Pa Kelley we called him, would come by on Christmas day and give us firecrackers to shoot off. That was OK but I never quite got the connection between firecrackers and Christmas. I don’t remember that we had Christmas lights on our tree but we might have as I got older. I do remember going over to Homer and Bobby’s house and they had some lights on their tree that had liquid in them that bubbled up. I thought that was pretty keen. Some folks in Heavener back then would decorate their houses and outside trees and such back then too, but it wasn’t as wide spread as the practice is today. Sometimes Dad would drive us up on the hill where Diana Guinn lived and from there we could look out across all of Heavener and see the pretty scenery around town. Somebody that lived up on that hill put up some really fine lights too. After I got growed up and got married and had a family of my own, it never occurred to me do the Christmas tree thing any different than my Dad had done, so down through the years I would find a cedar tree growing somewhere out in the wild and bring it home to be our Christmas tree. We moved around quite a bit and sometimes cedar trees were kinda scarce, but I always managed to find a "free" one somewhere. However; due to the poor quality I brought home on a "few" "rare" occasions I was frequently accused of bringing home a "Charley Brown" tree and am remembered more for those times than I am for the good ones I managed to find and bring home . For nearly forty years I did what I thought was my manly duty. I went into the woods and found a "nice" cedar tree, cut it down and proudly brought the tree home for my family to enjoy but then a few years back we made the switch to one of the "store bought plastic ones", and have used it since then. Peggy and our daughter have made some beautiful had crafted decorations to put on it and I must admit the tree is always much more attractive than any I ever brought in and they are certainly much less messy and safer than mine ever were; but somehow it just isn’t the same. I think that I thought there was a law or something that said Christmas trees had to be real evergreens and even then not evergreens that you bought from somebody but one that you went out and cut down yourself. Peggy tells me frequently that I live too much in the past and I reckon she is right again, and anyhow it is not the tree that makes a good Christmas is it? "For unto us is born this day in the City of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord".
Merry Christmas Everyone!


At December 7, 2009 at 10:44 PM , Blogger Kathy Bain Dunn said...

Colin, I just sat down from decorating our tree tonight. We switched to plastic a few years ago when Steve got married at Christmastime. To help with decorating the church I bought a white tree for the wedding.

I just wasn't feeling so good about a white tree this year, but we decided to go ahead and use it again. We are battling a little sadness this year, and thought the tree just wouldn't matter anyway. Well, God showed up to help decorate, and suddenly the scripture came to me, "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

So I will turn off the lights for tonight with a better feeling about the season and about my white tree - "Lord, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow."

At December 7, 2009 at 11:07 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

Nice memories, Colin. Like you, I get accused of living in the past sometime. I like to listen to 50's music most of the time and am always "recollecting" good memories. I find myself doing that a lot lately since Dad passed on.

I was just telling my wife this week about a Christmas memory I had from back in the 50's. I wasn't more than 7 or 8 years old when I went to my first "Christmas program" at the old Loving school house/Church. School was held on the first floor of the two-story building and Church took place on the second floor...where we had the Christmas program. As I recall, there was a big 'pot-belly' stove in the room and they found a spot for a big Cedar Christmas tree. Santa always showed up before the program ended and passed out small 'grocery sacks' with fruit (usually an apple or orange), some nuts (pecans or walnuts...or Brazil nuts), and some hard candy that was striped and shaped like an "S".

And speaking of Christmas trees, we made the switch to plastic several years ago, but miss the 'smell' of the real thing (even if the plastic ones are pretty). We went even further last year and bought one of those trees that already has the lights wired on it (talk about lazy, huh?).

At December 8, 2009 at 5:50 AM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Thanks, Colin. I guess I'm just an old "stuck-in-the-mudder" kind of fellow---I still use a real tree each Christmas. Sometimes it is a cut tree and sometimes it is a live one.

Chuck, I listen to 50s music too.

We're especially blessed this year. My son's family just expanded on December 3 with the arrival of our fourth grandchild--Bradley Weston.

God's blessings on all who read this.

At December 8, 2009 at 7:54 PM , Blogger Kathy Bain Dunn said...

A fun Christmas memory - - When I was three, Santa brought my first tricycle, the big red kind. Well, I soon noticed a problem. There was a big welding spot on the trike's seat. My Dad was a quick thinker, so he immediately offered that Santa must have dropped it in the fire when he came down the chimney. Those of you who remember our house know that we didn't have a chimney, but I believed my Daddy for a long time on that tale. The truth was that Dad got the trike from Dale Franklin's repair shop. My first two bicycles came from the same vendor!! Daddy loved a good deal!!

At December 8, 2009 at 11:24 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

When I was around 10 or 11 (I think), I still wanted to believe in Santa, even though I knew in my heart that he didn't exist. I'd like to think that back then, kids were able to hold on to those ideas a little longer than they do today.

My Dad worked a part-time job at...what was then...the Oklahoma Tire & Supply store in the evenings. He installed TV antennas, water coolers, and other appliances around Heavener, Wister, and the surrounding communities. He often took me along to hand him tools and pick up any empty boxes and put them back in the truck. I tell you this to explain why I would have a reason to be in the warehouse, behind the store, where all of the appliances, TV masts, antennas, etc., were stored.

One day (not too long before Christmas), as we were loading up at the warehouse, I noticed a small ferris wheel made out of Erector Set parts, high on a shelf. I had always wanted an Erector Set and I guess Dad saw me spying the toy. Evidently, Mr. Robertson (the store owner) had used this in the store's show window at one time. I couldn't reach it, so I just looked at it until Dad called me away.

Fast forward a few weeks to just before Christmas that year. For some reason that I can't remember, I went to my Dad's clothes closet to look for something (not Christmas gifts!). As I opened the door, I was shocked! There, behind Dad's shoes and under the hanging clothes, stood that ferris wheel that I had seen in the warehouse. When I say I was shocked, that's putting it mildly. It was as if someone had just turned on a big, bright, neon sign that said "THERE REALLY IS NO SANTA CLAUS!" I quickly closed the door and left the bedroom, hoping that no-one saw what I had done.

My Dad had talked Mr. Robertson into selling him that model and that was my Christmas that year. Naturally, I acted "surprised" on Christmas morning, but Christmas was never the same after that experience.

At December 9, 2009 at 4:25 AM , Blogger colin said...

I think I'm seeing double; must have been the egg nog I didn't drink?

At December 9, 2009 at 11:07 AM , Blogger John Inman said...

I remember once (I don't recall how old I might have been), dad sneaked around to the side of the house dressed up like Santa Claus and peered in the window as I was opening Christmas presents that night (we always opened Christmas presents on Christmas eve) and when I looked up it almost scared me to death. Christmas was not as much fun after that incident.

At December 9, 2009 at 9:09 PM , Blogger Kathy Bain Dunn said...

Santa-trauma has scarred many a child!!


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