The December Visit

We were living on a plot of nearly 339 acres of wild Missouri woods, down a back-road, to not anyplace, in Hickory county. I remember being lonely then, something that I never am now.

I was a young wife becoming more distant every day from my always absent husband. Those long evenings alone I remember listening to the ice out on the pond crackling as it froze solid and to the wood timbers of the cabin as they creaked and popped with the cold. The wind would howl and hiss down the chimney, blowing cold drafts into the four room cabin.

The coyotes out in the hills would take up their mournful calls at night fall. Their songs seemed to reflect all the loneliness in my heart. I was pregnant with my first child, and it sure did not seem like Christmas. My husband distant, my family states away.

But one day, Goose and Bennie James came by. Oh! You would have to know Goose. Goose was a bigger then life person, always jolly, always teasing. In the summer he would come and fish on the pond and you could hear his ya-hoos of excitement as he caught supper for his family and ours for the evening.

Goose was my brother in law, having married my husbands sister, quite an un-pigeion-holed type of a fellow, who played pool for a living. He was a man who had decided that life was not for working, but for playing. My in laws were always giving him a hard time for his contrary way of thinking, but I found it fascinating.

Here was a person who was who he was, no pretences. I found Goose very refreshing. He always made me laugh, and he always made me think. And Bennie James was his son, a delightful fellow with saucer shaped , intensely blue eyes, a tuft of blonde hair and a nature as accepting and open as his fathers.

They had come over on this certain day before Christmas to cut themselves a Christmas Tree. They rented a house in the small town of Hermitage so they came out to our woods to get one.

Off we trudged, through the snow covered woods and fields, Goose, Benny James, my belly and I. Goose insisted on singing Jingle Bells the whole time. Benny James and him threw snowballs at each other. We saw five deer, and a white hawk. Every once in a while Goose would glance back at me to see how I was making it as I was very pregnant and very round, and he would laugh at the comical picture that I made. Their liveliness, their comradeship did so much for my spirits that day.

They cut down and dragged back to the cabin, a tree for them, and a tree for me, lovely little cedars. We had hot cocoa and some venison chili that I heated up before they left me that day leaving me with the scent of evergreen, and my spirits rekindled. Trendle Ellwood

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Mythic Symbol - The Christmas Tree

When I was little my very favourite part of Christmas was the lolly bags Mum made up at Christmas time. It was the one time of the year that she could afford to buy a mixture of lollies and nuts and she did so with such style that the bag became a tradition. Mum's mixed bag of sweet surprises came in red cellopane and was left at the end of our bed, to be found on Christmas morning.

Given the scarcity of sweets like this, the lolly bag created more excitement amongst my siblings and I, than the things under the tree.

However, having said that, we did love the live tree that was decorated in late December, after school had finished fro the year and I loved watching as Mum added the freshly boiled sixpenny coins to the plum pudding. As the youngest I usually licked the bowl after she had finished, complaining bitterly if she had scraped too much of the mixture into the pudding bag.

Tree Day.

The most important thing about Thanksgiving at our house is the day after and that is because it is Tree Day.

We go into the woods to cut our Christmas Tree. Since we live in Camelot (The rain may never fall upon the hillside, by 8 a.m. the morning fog has flown . . . etc.) We have snow on the mountains, but not on the valley floor. We have fairly temperate weather down here, but if you want to we get dressed for cold and drive a little, voila! you are in the snow. We go up into the snow for the Christmas tree.

Edwina Peterson Cross writes about Tree Day

The City Christmas Tree

When I first realized that Christmas Trees could be sold on lots in town, I was about ten. All my life we had gone outside and taken a walk to get a Christmas tree. When we lived in Ohio, we lived next to my fathers Father, who was a farmer. Grandfather had planted trees years ago, just for Christmas Trees, and we would pick out one to put into our homes every year.

After we had moved to Missouri, we had a woods, it was usually a cedar tree that would become our Christmas tree as they grew wild there.

But one year we had come back to Ohio and were visiting with my Moms parents in Zanesville Ohio. We had not been there long, sitting on Brighton Boulevard, in the middle of that bustling Appalachian town on Christmas Eve, when Grandpa jumped up from his reclining chair and exclaimed, " Let's go get a Christmas tree! And off we went, zipping around in Grandpa's little bug of a car, to get one.

I expected us to drive out of town and into the country. But Grandpa just kept twisting and darting in and out of those city streets until he stopped short, at a corner lot where a man was standing under flapping red flags, blinking Christmas lights and row after row of cut evergreens. I was so surprised! It was such a different way to get a tree, to me!

We stepped out into a produce stand of Evergreens, Grandpa grabbed right up one that was little and cute and swung it unto the top of his bug, and off we went, the smell of ever~green lingering with us all the way home.

I had trouble going to sleep that night, the city noises were so loud! So different then the mocking bird and wind sounds that I was used to. I just lay in my bed on Grandma's sofa and looked at that little tree that grandpa had gotten for us, all decorated now, with Christmas decorations that grandma had, had us pull up from the basement.

What a world this tree looks on I thought, one of horn, and honk, and roar and hizz of city street. But it was just as beautiful, this city bought pine, as any of the wild ones that graced our fields back home. It's boughs were as scented, it's grace as dear. Finally I drifted off to sleep that night ,the pine taking on the image, to me,of a protector between me and the strange world beyond the window.
Trendle Ellwood

Make an Advent Tree

"Make a bare tree. Tie together twigs, or twist together wire. Or simply take a twig that is already perfect as a tree, or a bare tree from the craft store. Now tie poems, thanks, or prayers each day onto that bare tree to give it life in its new foliage, and so give life to those thoughts. You can use normal white paper, or you can play with colored paper, ribbons, different types of papers and tissues and maybe even foils!Give your tree life and vitality, or simple beauty, drawing from all the thankfulness, giving, and joy you can muster for this holiday season. It doesn't have to be just you, it can be as many as want to participate.

Then, on Christmas day, you may wish to them make a little activity of untying those thoughts and reading them aloud for yourself or all involved to hear and remember! But are you not quite the joyous person nowadays around this time? Then dig deep into your memories and simple pleasures of your life to pull out all those things, remembering joys from anytime of year, from anytime in your past. It may have nothing to do with Christmas. Find something that brings your life joy, forget about everything else, even this entire season, and hold onto that joy. Forget about the holidays, find what you are thankful for, and what does bring you joy. No matter how sad you get, it always helps once you start. And then go do something you enjoy, use your hands, let go."
Josh Parkinson