This time of year my memories go back to those years when my brother, sisters and I were growing up on the ranch.
Perhaps my fondest memories are associated with the Christmas tree. During those years we didn’t put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving as many families do today.
That’s because our parents grew up with the tradition of decorating the tree on Christmas Eve. It was also a tradition that Dad cut our evergreen tree.
My sister, Darlene Blackford, remembers that it was “kind of hard to get Dad going” when it came to cutting the tree. That’s probably because he didn’t see any reason to get in a hurry until at least a couple of days before Christmas. (As memory serves, there may have been times when he didn’t cut the tree until December 24.)
But we kids worried and stewed. What if we didn’t have a tree that year? It was unthinkable!
Brother Duane Osborn remembers that “it was quite a thing “ for Dad to cut a tree. First, he had to load a horse and drive as close as possible to a bunch of evergreen trees. (We all remember the horse named Old Buck the best.)
We didn’t have a horse trailer in those days so Dad loaded the horse in the back of our robin egg blue Ford pickup with stock racks and drove off. He drove to the place that the county road was no longer plowed and unloaded the horse.
From there Dad rode on horseback until he found evergreen trees. Then he found a suitable tree and chopped it down.
Today people select trees with just the right shape. We don’t remember much about the shape of our trees — likely they sometimes weren’t perfectly symmetrical. However, they were tall, and to us they were the most wonderful trees in the world.
As we recall, our evergreen trees were mostly balsam. One year, possibly because of the weather, Dad had to resort to cutting a cedar tree.
We were disappointed, mostly because we weren’t used to having cedar trees but also because they were more difficult to decorate.
Anyway, once he had cut the tree, Dad had to drag it back to the pickup. This must have been quite a feat considering how deep the snow might have been.
Once back at the truck, Dad loaded the tree and then the horse. They rode side by side all the way home.
Darlene remembers watching for Dad. There was one “spot” on the county road that could be seen from the house.
After what probably seemed like an eternity, Darlene spotted the pickup with tree branches waving along in the breeze. What excitement! Dad was home with a tree!
While we had been waiting for Dad to get back, we cleared a little space in one corner of the living room. Our house was rather small so now I marvel that we were even able to find the space for a big tree.
Dad nailed a wooden stand on the bottom of the tree and brought it to the house. (We never put the tree trunk in water. That’s probably why it was promptly taken down on New Year’s Day.)
I can still remember the rush of cold air entering the house as the door was left open long enough to pull the tree into the house. Things were knocked over as the bushy tree was brought into the living room and set in place.
There were needles to sweep off the floor, and sometimes the tree branches were filled with snow and ice. But nobody cared.
We waited until the tree had warmed up and perhaps dried out before decorating it, and before long the house was filled with that wonderful evergreen aroma. There has never been exactly the same evergreen “smell” for me since.
All that was left was decorating the tree—next week’s story “From Pipi’s Pasture.”
Copyright Diane Prather, 2012