Traditions   2 comments


Once again, it’s memory lane time.  Sitting here in front of the Christmas tree in the family room.  I was just thinking of…, remembering some of the Christmas traditions of my family. I have tried, as best I could, to keep some of them alive, at least in part.  The start of the holiday season went something like this.

It started at my Gram’s house.  On Friday after Thanksgiving, my father, the eldest son, was sent out to get a tree for the house – not our house – Gram’s house.  It had to be a natural tree, and a spruce.  She’d not have one of those fake trees, nor would she tolerate any kind of a pine in the house, and it had to be at least 6ft tall.  That night, after an evening meal she’d prepared, all of the grandchildren were gathered in the living room where the tree was to be decorated.  By this time, the tree had been pruned and set in its base in a washtub of water.  Next step was to string the lights on the tree, usually 4 strings of 50 lights (the big old fashioned ones, not tiny LED’s).  Then Gram separated the children in groups, mostly by size and age.  She took the small, younger ones to the tree and handed them the ornaments, pointing to where she wanted them to be hung.  When this was completed, it was time for the taller, older ones to finish the middle and top of the tree.  All the while, there was hot chocolate and cookies on the sideboard for us to  enjoy.  When all was done, she would go to a bureau drawer and take out a small box.  It contained a small, somewhat non-descript little ornament – a worn, faded, scratched red ball of yarn.  It had been given to her by her grandmother and, for as far back as my father could remember, it was always the last ornament to be placed on the tree, always by my grandmother.  As the patriarch of the family now, I have that ornament.  As nearly as I can calculate, it must be somewhere about 160-170 years old.

This Friday, I took out our FAKE tree (Gram’s probably rolling in her grave – but it is a fake spruce) to set up and decorate.  I added a couple of strings of colored lights to the pre-strung white ones and, since all of the grandkids are in Chicago or Indianapolis, commenced hanging ornaments on the tree.  When that was finished I put the star on the top and moved the tree to the corner where it will reside for the holidays.  Oh, did I forget something?  Not really…    Though it’s still worn, and scratched, and faded, it holds a place of honor on the tree, as always was its right…, and it was the last to be placed on the tree.  I could almost feel her hand on my shoulder as I placed it in the center of the tree, as she was always want to do.

When this was all finished, I plugged in the lights and sat back with my traditional fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and a cup of hot chocolate, spiked with some amaretto, and was lost in memories for a while.


This was the beginning of the holiday season at Gram’s house.  Yeah, I still really miss that little old lady…, and she WAS a lady !




2 responses to “Traditions

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  1. Such a gifted storyteller! Love your memories!

  2. Thank you for sharing your traditions with us. Beautifully told, Paul.

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