Christmas at the Kings Home in Roxalana was a humble working family affair. Christmas appeared at our house no sooner than ten days before Christmas.
Oh, the Christmas catalogs from, Sears, Montgomery Ward, and Spiegel came in the mail before then…but not too long. Christmas didn’t officially begin until the tree was cut and drug down from the hill.
` I suppose my father cut the tree in the earlier years. But, Dad was a hard working no nonsense man for whom Christmas was an extravagance. So when my oldest sister Betty was big enough to go by herself, she cut the tree. Soon my sister Midge was big enough to go along. By 1948, my sister Betty had married and I joined Midge on the trip to the hill.
There was never a perfect tree. Midge and I would roam the top of the hill searching for that tree. One tree would look good from a distance…but no..too big. Another would look good on one side, but it was bare on the other. Finally we would choose one…plus another that was not that great for patching.
My mother was never pleased with the trees with cut. But, with wire and branches from the other tree, she could produce a tree that was nearly perfect.
And, it was time for my favorite part of Christmas: decorating the tree. Our decorations were ancient. The First thing that went on the tree were the lights…after they were untangled. One year, my Aunt Ina gave us her old bubble lights. Some very old rope followed those. Then came the ornaments. When was younger I would make my own out of paper to hang on the branches. But, we had old old ornaments that had hung on countless trees down through the years. The last ornament was the ancient star beaten and worn. Last, but not least, wee the icicles. These had to go the tree just so so.
When all was done, it was the beginning of the most important period of Christmas. Now, it was time for me to just sit and look. For me, this became more important than Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning. To just sit and gaze at the tree was to both peaceful and joyful. The wrapped presents under the tree did not matter that much. Just having the glory of the tree to look at was much more important than any present I might hope to receive. After 1953, and I learned that my mother had sacrificed and to buy me a frivolous something that I had wanted, I refused to ask for anything. The tree and me was enough. Santa and I had not been on speaking terms for a number of years anyway.
There would be activities at Church that I would have part in. One year we put on out play for the children at the Polio Hospital at Milton. I always had some part. Yes, I remember those folks who were in those activities. Some have gone to their reward.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning would eventually come with the regimented opening of gifts. We just didn’t tear into our gifts willy nilly like some families did. Presents were passed out one gift at a time and each person opened a gift and waited until the others had opened theirs.
The most important part of Christmas Day was the Christmas Dinner. Our home operated on food. My Dad didn’t have a lot of that commodity when he was growing up. So, he always made sure that, if we didn’t have anything else, we had food. Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner, and New Years Day dinners were special events.
We always had extra family as guests. My Uncle Vernon and his family were there a number of times. And, in the later years at Roxalana, my mom’s mother would be with us. All those family members with us for Christmas are what bring precious memories to me now. Those, and of course the time spent with the Christmas tree.
Today, Christmas is bitter sweet. Both of our parents left us at Christmas time. It is sad that they both had to leave so young. But, they are still with me. I miss my grandmother as well. I miss them all. My uncle Vernon’s family left at the average age of fifty-eight.
The Greatest Christmas gift is still the Salvation brought by Jesus Christ the Son of God. Without out Christ, it would be a long long dark and cold December…and you can for get about Black Friday or Happy Holidays.