Agriculture & Livestock: Taking down the tree

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Diane Prather

There are memories associated with decorating the house for Christmas for those connected to family traditions.

This is especially true with the Christmas tree.

Sometimes it’s after all the hustle and bustle that we really take time to reflect on these memories — like the day we take the tree down.

For this story, assume that it’s a grandma who is doing the “taking down.” She goes to the storage shed to bring out the boxes marked “Christmas” and “fragile.”

The tree decorations are taken down in reverse order in which they were put up — hanging ornaments first, then garland, lights and then the angel (which has been in the family so long that her new base had to be constructed from cardboard).

So, Grandma opens the ornament box first.

Her eyes are drawn to the bottom of the box. To anyone else it would appear the bottom of the box is littered with stuff that needs to be thrown out, such as discolored construction paper cutouts, loose pieces of yarn and decorative items no longer attached to anything.

But to Grandma, these are precious memories.

For example, there’s a slightly smashed ornament that was made from a cup of a Styrofoam egg carton and decorated with sequins. Thirty-five years ago, a son brought it home from school and proudly hung it on the tree.

Then there’s a reindeer that another son had fashioned from a brown paper bag.

His name was carefully printed in crayon on the back of the reindeer’s head. Glued-on antlers formed a hanger so the ornament could be hung on the tree.

But the reindeer is missing an eye, and the tip of one of the antlers has been broken off.

Another reindeer was cleverly made by gluing dog bone treats together, but now the reindeer has come apart and all that is left are treat legs and body that are scattered around in the bottom of the box.

Grandma studies these and other memorable odds and ends from nearly 40 years ago, all left from school projects that were proudly made for Mom and Dad.

She can’t throw any of them away, so they remain in the bottom of the box, and she begins to place ornaments from the tree on top of them. These hold memories, too.

Among the ornaments are:

• Two hand-painted wood cows, one black and the other red with a white face, each with the ranch brand.

• A red bird with a broken leg that the children felt sorry for years ago.

• A painted clothespin cowboy wearing a black cowboy hat.

• Ornaments commemorating marriages and births of grandchildren.

• Two cowboy boots, one tan and the other a darker brown, one for each son.

• A felt musical star that no longer plays music when squeezed.

• An ornament fashioned to look like a lasso.

• Antique cardboard, tinsel-trimmed ornaments from Grandma’s family.

• A sled with a little bear seated in it.

• Cookie cutters shaped like horses, pigs, sheep, and cows.

• A hanging miniature pitchfork.

• Golden angels, each bearing the name of sons, their wives, and grandchildren.

• A black and white cow in the shape of a bell.

• Bulbs, now chipped here and there, that came from Grandma and Grandpa’s first year together, purchased with precious coins from an “88-Cent Store.”

Memories indeed. What memories will you find when taking down your Christmas tree?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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