Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Days Before Christmas

As far back as I remember, we always had a pine tree for Christmas. About a week or so before Christmas, on a Saturday, my Dad would get out his tree cutting tools. They consisted of a small hatchet and a hand saw. Dad liked the saw because it didn't make much noise!

Mom would get me bundled up in my winter clothes, hand knitted mittens and hat. Dad would let me carry the hatchet in spite of Mom's protest! The hatchet blade was wrapped up with an old rag and tied, keeping me safe.

Off we would go down the old railroad tracks to a cart path crossroad (now Pinehurst Road). We would take the cart path into a pine grove of small trees. These pine trees were spreading into the pasture land of David Seager's Farm.

Dad would select one a little taller than he could reach. He would send me in to trim the lowest branches with the hatchet. This was quite a task for a young kid.  Dad helped me those first few years. He would take his saw and, in short order, over the tree fell.

Now the task of dragging it home: Dad in front and me taking up the rear, trying to keep the tree from dragging along the ground, while still hanging onto my hatchet!

Finally we arrived home. I was pooped!

Oh no, we weren't through. Dad had me gather up the bushel baskets stored in the barn. Into the back seat of the old Chevy they went. We now headed off to Pine Street.

About half way down Pine Street, we pulled over, across from the brick yard factory. We scrambled over the embankment, jumped over the brook and through the thick moss.

The moss-covered ground under the hemlock trees was ideal for Princess Pine to thrive. We would pick a basketful -- how pretty those little tree-like plants were. A good crop of Trailing Ground Pine was also found growing through the Hemlock litter and moss.

With two full baskets, we headed back to the car. I would drag the lightest basket to the edge of the brook. Dad would carry it over the brook, up the bank, and into the Chevy. (I was back at the brook on my hands and knees having a cold drink, and boy was that water cold!)

Back home we unloaded the full baskets of greens. Dad got the round frames made of chicken wire down from the barn attic. They still had a few dried-up leftover greens from last year. I would clean them out and start weaving the Princess Pine into the frame.

I had watched Dad make these wreaths as long as I could remember. He would fix them up here and there where I messed up. During this time Dad was making a stand for the tree (no store-bought stand here!) Finally, late in the afternoon, we had three wreaths made and a tree ready for decorating.

Remember, this took place on a Saturday, so now what? Into the old Chevy and off to Sted's. I, holding a five cent returnable bottle. Dad would get a bottle of Ballentine Ale and a cigar. I would exchange the bottle for a candy bar. After arriving home, the tree got dragged into the house to be decorated the next day.

Supper came and went. Now it was time for a few games of checkers. I, with a candy bar and a glass of milk. Dad, with a glass of ale and a cigar. As I look back, I lost most of the checkers games, but I won a day with my Dad.

''The smells of Christmas are the smells of childhood'' - Richard Paul Evans

by Ray Freden. The village of Seaview, Marshfield Ma.

P.S. I still have one Christmas tree ball from my first Christmas. It's 78 years old!

1 comment:

  1. Absolute heaven....thank you for such a wonderful memory!!!!