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The Christmas Tree

 

It was a cold day with December chill in the air when Daddy announced that it was time to go get the Christmas tree. Well! That announcement was about the best thing that could happen to a little boy of five years old. Just the thought of Christmas would make me swell with smiles all over. I remembered last years Christmas, with the tree and presents. The dinner at Grandma's house, that we went to on Christmas day and the special smells that filled the air, from Grandma's "cedar" Christmas tree. Mother would get out all the Christmas decorations from last year. There was the round wreth with the amber bulb ,that looked like a flame, mounted on a look alike candle. It was always hung on the big dinning room door with the big glass window. This door faced out toward the barn and we could see the glow of that amber bulb from anywhere around the front area. It was always an excitement just to glance toward the house, when doing the choirs, and see that wreth, and it's light, shinning out to remind us all that it was Christmas time again.

Oh! I thought. It's that time again. We've got to hurry and get that tree so Christmas can get started. Because nothing can happen until we get that tree. That tree is the most central thing of Christmas, I thought.

Soon the choirs were all done, so I asked daddy if it was time yet. Yes, he replied. Go to the wood shed and get the double bitted axe. Remember! It is very sharp, from the sharpening I done last week. Just take it by the handle and drag it to the door, where I can get it when I come back from taking the milk in and getting the rest of the family. Dean, Roger , Mom and Charlene.

Off we went around the barn, down the road and accross the fields and into the woods. We were all walking except Charlene. Mom and daddy would carry her because she was what we call handicapped today and hadn't learned to walk really well yet, although she was five or six years olded then I. She would learn to walk pretty well soon after, however.

I was so excited I wanted to cut the first tree we came to. They all looked the same to me. The one I would have selected would probably have been a Charlie Brown tree. Now, although I didn't know then, daddy had led us to a preselected tree, that he had been noticing all through the summer. It was one that had been just inside the main pasture field, at the end of what we called the long field. Finally, daddy said to mom. What do you think of this one? My mothers eye was quite a bit more scrutinizing then any of ours. She would look at every branch, from every angle. "There is a hole, or a crook there". Lets look at others, she said. After climbing over several hills, looing at many different trees, she finally decided on the first one we looked at. The one daddy had in mind all along. He had already looked at all the others many times, while getting the cows and driving them to the barn all year. But! He wanted to make mom feel important, for her to have the reassurance that it was her decision on the tree picked. He took that sharp axe and with just a couple chops the tree fell over, thus starting Christmas, I thought in my mind.

We all helped carry it back to the house, being careful not to knock off to many pine needles. Daddy and brother Dean fixed a wooden cross, from scraps of two by four's, by knoching then and nailing them together. It was then fastened to the bottom of that tree, readying it to be taking into the house. They stood it in the corner, of what we called the dinning room, probably because the living room was crowded. What with the big heatrola coal stove along one side of the room, the sofa, many chairs of one kind and another and other objects that adorn a home.

Mom got out all last years lights, ornaments and tensile. Dean, Roger and I took delight in untangling the light strings. We then plugged them into a wall scocket, one string at a time, and started twisting bulbs until the whole string came on. To see that whole string of lights come on all at once was just about the most exciting thing I could see. You see! The lights then were wired parallel. Meaning, the electric traveled through the first bulbs filament and into the next and so on. If one didn't work and transfer the electric onward, then the whole string would not work.

Finally it is Christmas eve and it can get started. I take a last look at the tree, before going to bed, close my eyes for sleep, then awaken and run down stairs to check under the tree. Yes! Santa, or whoever played the part, had been there and left a present for each of us. My father and mother couldn't afford much but they always made sure that each of us got one nice present, like a tricycle, bike or wagon. Maybe some socks or shirts. This time I got a Radio Flyer wagon. It was a complete suprise and I was so happy about getting that big red wagon. I would keep it for many years, playing truck and hauling milk for all the neighbors. Of course I didn't leave the farm building area, but made believe I had routes where I drove and picked up the milk. I repaired the wagon many times, as parts wore out, like the steering parts made of tin, that would bend and break. The holes that held the axle frame to the tin wagon body would crack and break out and had to be welded. When we would go to town, I took the body to the welding shop for repair. One time I decided that I would like to have duel wheels on the rear, so I had an extra length of axle welded on, to accomodate the two extra wheels. Now I had a duel wheeled milk truck. I made a snow plow for the front and kept the snow lanes open to all the chicken houses and down to the barn. If I kept ahead of the snow I could open up quite a large snow layer.

Christmas day passed, the days following passed, and the hum-blob and glamor of Christmas was over and it's time to take that once so beautiful Christmas tree down. Off with the bulbs, the tensil and hanging ornaments, that brought so much joy, so much life, that tree that everybody gathered around on Christmas morning, that tree that we all were so proud of, was dragged out to the garden and set afire.

Now that skeleton of what was once a lovely tree, lies silently through the rest of the winter, because just the needles and small twigs were all that burned, leaving the main stem and branches intack. It's charred black trunk and blunted limbs were all that was left to remind us of what once stood so proudly in the corner of our dinning room, where it reined supremely over it's brood of gifts and eclair.

Yes! Christmas is over.

"Look at all those birds around that old Christmas tree lying out in the garden", I said to daddy one day. With a rebirthing kind of spirit from the long winters Hum-drum, as he looked out the kitchen window. "Well! I'll be", he said. If you look closely you will notice that the snow has melted all around that old Christmas tree. That' s because the charred blackness has drawn the suns rays, causing it to be much warmer and melting the snow under the tree. Now the birds have a place to hunt food from off the ground. My little mind was getting some very important information, from the wisest of all, I thought.

I stood there with my elbows on the window sill, resting my chin in the cup of my hands, watching all those birds fluttering about. "I wonder if they will find any presents under that tree"?

 

Dale Truax

 

 


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