Well, Thanksgiving is over and that means its almost Christmastime again. Over the weekend, my family discussed what we were going to do for Christmas this year. Normally, we don’t discuss it this early, but since Christmas is on Monday that throws a wrench in the works.
We never figured out what we were going to do because nobody knew when they were going to have to work.
But, it got me thinking.
I guess I’m getting a little bit nostalgic as the big Five-O approaches, because I was thinking about Christmas as a child. I even put up a few Christmas decorations Sunday afternoon.
I was thinking about Christmas as a child when I wrote this column a few years ago when I worked in Fort Payne..
I decided to share it again because it contains some of my favorite Christmas memories.
My mother used to do a lot of decorating, but in recent years she’s kind of tapered off on lights and the little Christmas village stuff she used to put out.
But, every year, she always has a live tree. It’s been that way as long as I remember. Back when I was a kid, we actually went out into the woods and searched for a tree each Christmas.
I suppose my mother was fond of that because that was the way it was done when she grew up. One year in particular I remember my mom and dad loading up the three kids and heading out into the pasture on an old yellow station wagon in search of a tree.
My mom drives the same speed everywhere she goes, and that’s as fast as she can possibly go because she’s usually running late — often very late. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s a paved road, dirt road or a field. She always drives as fast as she can go without the car shaking itself apart.
So there were went, tearing through the field, jumping from terrace to terrace with three kids bouncing around in the back seat. At the time, I had never seen a roller coaster, but I figured that ride was about as close as I would come anytime soon.
Eventually we reached the edge of the woods, and we all rolled out — I mean that literally — of the car. After I got my wits about me, I headed off into the woods looking for a tree. I wasn’t a child that scared very easily, so I slipped off before anyone noticed.
I guess I should have learned a lesson about that a couple of years prior. My mom and some of her friends had loaded up the station wagon with kids and took off shopping for Christmas. We stopped at a gas station and I jumped out of the car to chase a bug. When I turned around, the station wagon was gone.
Eventually, my mom did a head count and figured out I was missing. It seemed like I sat by the gas pump for about an hour before the station wagon came skidding back into the parking lot. My mom popped out, beat my butt and then tossed me in the back seat.
I didn’t find a tree, but I did find an old cow skull. Eventually they started yelling for me, assuming I had gotten lost. Which I wasn’t, I could still see the bright yellow station wagon through the trees.
I wandered back with my cow skull. I was pretty proud of it. It still had horns on it. My mom didn’t seem to notice the skull and must have been in the Christmas spirit because I didn’t get a whipping for wandering off.
Eventually we carted a tree back to the car and took off across the field like we were racing for a checkered flag. By the time we made it to a paved road, I was wedged into the Christmas tree along with my skull like an oversized ornament.
Then came the best part — decorating the tree. I wasn’t that much into the decorating, I enjoyed the comical nature in which the tree went up. You see, my father never quite mastered the art of getting the tree to stand upright by itself. So, the tree usually fell over a few times before he finally admitted defeat and drove some nails into the wall basically tied the tree in place.
I think the most fun part of the whole affair was the anticipation of an impending disaster. I kind of sat on the edge of the couch, just waiting for the poor tree to come crashing down. Eventually the tree did stand upright and get decorated. Nevertheless, I still expected it to fall over at any moment during the holidays.
The one thing I can always remember about those trees is the smell. Some years it was pine and other years it was cedar. The aroma of the tree just made it feel more like Christmas.
It makes me wonder what my mother’s house will smell like this year for the holidays.
Huck Treadwell’s column appears Tuesdays.