Keeping the Christmas Tradition

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Two Rivers

The wonder of Christmas Traditions!

Submitted: December 12, 2017

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Submitted: December 12, 2017



Quote from my son, Nate, on Facebook:

My mom and dad started this with me I actually don't know how many years ago! 40? It stuck...One of the most favorite times of the year…every year!”

It started like every other year.  Nate was maybe three years old, and it was time to get the Christmas tree…again.  His mom and I were young.  I had just gotten out of the air force and money was tight.  I had grown up with a Christmas trees, and so had she.  That wasn’t the problem. 

In my youth and childhood, we bought left-over trees at the grocery store for a dollar.  It was no big deal.  The fun part was putting some old twig up in the house, which was usually crooked with a big bare spot on one side, then and putting all the stuff on it we had collected over the years.  Many times the lights didn’t work anymore.  Once we even had to put ropes to the wall from the tree to hold it up.

However, Nate’s mom wanted to get the perfect tree.  It was the yearly chore to go to all the places in town that sold Christmas trees, and look and look, then going back to the first place only to realize the perfect tree had already been sold.  It was no different that year.  We were both angry by the time we landed at my mom’s house.  She gave us coffee and cookies, and Nate cookies and milk.  We groused about each other and how unreasonable each was being. 

Mom left the room and came back with a colored newspaper page with ads on it.  “Here, you can get a coupon for a free tree at Eby Pines if you buy a new stereo.”  It seemed foolish to think of buying a stereo for over $200.00 to get a free tree.  We could hardly afford to buy even a cheap tree!  We both lighten up with the coffee and cookies in our belly, and on the way home, we stopped by Zimmerman’s, the store selling the stereos, just to look around.

“It would be nice to have a stereo,” I said.  We wandered around and no one tried to sell us anything.  Nate was scurrying around intrigued by all the new sights and sounds of the season.  Finally, we went to the counter at the back of the store.  Two ladies and guy were there working on invoices or something. 

The man looked up and said, “So, did you find something you like?”

“Yeah, we were looking at that stereo, and wondered if you could plug it in, so we could hear it play.”

“Absolutely, that’s the one I like,” he said.  “It’s the best one on the floor, and only $268.99.”  I nearly choked.  Nate’s mom rolled her eyes.  I explained to him that we didn’t have any money, but were just looking.  “No problem, we finance,” he explained.

He popped into his sales mood.  “This is a great piece of furniture!”  He was right.  It was nearly five feet in length made of light colored wood, maybe cherry.  It had a record changer up to LP’s, AM and FM radio, and record storage.  “It has great amplication to give you good fidelity,” he said.  “If we were to crank this baby up, you could hear it clear uptown.”  We were eight blocks from the main part of town.  He turned it half volume, and the girls behind the counter gave him a dirty look, and so he turned it back down. 

We smiled at each other.  We had to have this stereo!  “Oh, and don’t forget you get a free Christmas tree coupon for Eby Pines, best trees in northern Indiana,” he added. 

The next day we grabbed our saw and headed out for Eby Pines.  The stereo wasn’t going to be delivered until the next week.  At Eby Pines, it was the old scenario all over again.  She would see a tree, and we’d go over there to cut it, and then she would see another and abandoned the first to look at the new tree.  We’d go back to the first tree and it would be gone.  Nate loved being out in the fresh air and the snow.  Everything was an adventure to him, which always gave me a thrill to see his enthusiasm for the simple things and the love of life. 

However, I was the grump.  I finally just grabbed the saw and cut the nearest tree I saw.  I shoved it into the trunk of our old car and we left.  My wife didn’t speak to me all the way home.  Nate stood between us on the front seat pointing to all the lights and plastic Santa Clauses in people’s yards, totally oblivious that World War Three was going on in our beat-up, old Chevy. 

At home, I dragged the tree in and found the Christmas tree stand.  I cut some the limbs off at the bottom to make it fit in the stand, leaving a big mess of sawdust and the saw in the middle of the floor.  I stood the tree in the corner.  “There’s your tree!” I exclaimed in a big huff.  We sat down for supper.  Nate’s mom had dutifully cooked the evening meal.  We ate in silence with the bare tree in the corner and Nate pointing to it and exclaiming, “Christmas tree!”  We didn’t answer.  Finally, supper was over, and we lifted him out of his high chair, and he ran to the tree.  The decorations lay on the floor, and he picked up one of Christmas tree bulbs from the box and climbed up on the arm of the couch and hung it on the tree and looked at us. 

His mom began laughing and got up, ran over, and hugged him.  I began laughing too and joined them.  We decorated the tree together, and it was beautiful!  In fact, it was the fullest and best-shaped tree we ever had.  I can still see it in my mind's today.

When he was about eight Nate asked me, “Dad, how do I know I’m getting a good Christmas tree?” 

I laughed.  “You’re asking me?”  But, then I gave him all my vast wisdom.  “Well, pick one that is full, cone-shaped, and no bare spots, and straight!”

There were years where just he and I would go out and get the tree.  Sometimes we would go out and cut one, but I don’t remember doing it every year.  Maybe the tradition to him was the cutting of the tree, but to me, the tradition was seeing his face and experiencing his love of Christmas trees.  Keep up the tradition, Nate!

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