From Pipi’s Pasture: New Year’s Day remembered

What I remember most about my childhood New Year’s Day was cold and snow—and lots of it. Sometimes we would have gone to a neighbor’s home on New Year’s Eve, but no matter what time we got home, we had to get up at the regular time on New Year’s Day to feed the animals; they were the priority. So we braved the cold and fed the 4-H steers and the team of horses that would pull the sled for feeding the main herd of cattle, fed and milked the cow, packed a bucket of grain back to the house for the chickens (whose hen house was behind the main house), and finished up whatever else was necessary at the corral. When I was done my feet always felt like I was wearing wooden shoes.

Then we had breakfast, and afterward Dad got ready to feed the herd of Hereford cows. He hitched the team to a sled, and off they went to the pasture where Dad loaded the sled with hay and spread it out for the cows. On weekends and during vacation time we kids sometimes took our sled and rode along with Dad, sliding off the hills while he loaded hay. On New Year’s Day, however, I always stayed at the house because it was a tradition to dismantle the Christmas tree that day—I have no idea how the tradition got started.

While Mom cooked a nice dinner (we never invited anyone in on New Year’s Day), my sister(s) who had stayed home from feeding and I began the sad task of taking the lights, garland, tinsel, and ornaments off the tree. We saved all of the tinsel possible and put it back in its box for next year. All of the ornaments were carefully repacked in their boxes. As we put away some of our favorites (such as Rudolph), we said goodbye for another year.

One thing was for sure—it was a mess. Since we always had a freshly-cut tree, it was starting to dry out by now, and there were needles everywhere. Add water from the tree stand to the mix, there was a trail of wet needles as we pulled the tree across the dining room and through the kitchen to the back door. A considerable number of items got knocked to the floor during the tree movement, too.

Once we got the tree trough the door, we pulled it out into the yard a little way and stood it up. Later on we tied suet on the branches so the birds could get a treat—and so that we could use the tree a little longer.

Last we cleaned up the house, put the furniture back into place in the living room, and carried the boxes of ornaments upstairs until the next Christmas. It was a sad day for us, indeed, because Christmas was over and shortly we would be back in school with a snowy, cold month and a half ahead until Valentine’s Day.

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