We had a large evergreen growing close to one corner of the house. It probably wasn't as large as the one shown here and, of course, it wasn't out in the country but in a city neighborhood. It was a big one, however, and I remember that about the 15th of December Dad would come home and tell us that today was the day.
Dad would make a big production out of it and he insisted on doing most of the ornament placement himself. We children were his helpers, carting the boxes full of ornaments, strings of silver tinsel and, of course, the outdoor lights. Back in those days the lights were gigantic and they were very difficult to keep from tangling. We spent a goodly portion of time from the outset trying to separate them and get them in order.
Dad brought out a big ladder and he would climb up to the point were he would start placement. There was a bit of a gap from the height to which he could go and the top, but he did have a lightweight Christmas star which he was able to place on the top with the help of a pole with a hook on the end. I remember that it was always a little crooked when in place but we dare not say a thing.
He would work his way around the tree, continually moving the ladder and barking orders concerning what he wanted next. It was kind of like the general calling on the privates to push themselves and Mom would periodically come out, survey the scene and shake her head, then go back in the house. Her real sentiments were seen through her feigned annoyance by the slight smile shown at the corner of her mouth. We knew that once this was done there would be fresh sugar cookies and creamy hot chocolate awaiting.
Each step of the way he would ask us if everything looked okay and, of course, we spoke the "party line". The only time that there was any disagreement was when Dad would put loose tinsel in the gap between the highest decorations and the top of the tree. It kind of looked like icicles, albeit artificial ones, and we knew that it would take until Spring for them to naturally fall off the tree. They stuck like glue when they became moist.
Finishing the decorations, we all had to admit it would look good at night when the lights were blazing and Dad would have the grand lighting of the tree that night after supper. He also would have a special surprise that he would wear for that occasion: a new Christmas tie complete with a battery driven light on it. We wondered what it would be this year.
After dinner, we turned on the inside tree lights (which had been put up and decorated several days prior, a much easier task) and all walked out into the front yard. Dad went back inside to turn the big evergreen on. At the count of three, voila, it was on and it jumped to life. The lights were all green and red and the tinsel strands and the loose stuff reflected the colors beautifully.
Hearing the front door close we looked to see Dad approach with a bright red light on his chest. His new tie was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and his nose was blinking away to a playing of the song by that name song which had been recorded the year before by Gene Autry. We laughed and Mom made a little fun, but we all knew how much he loved Christmas and we were glad we had a dad who could play like a little kid once in a while. He was making up for lost time.
I lost my father a few years later between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Truthfully, Christmas has never been the same for me ever since. But I cherish those wonderful memories from years gone by and I am thankful that I have them.
So what's your fun story for Christmas? Take time to remember it and share it with your loved ones this Christmas. It's fun, therapeutic and it is truly part of the Christmas Spirit. God bless you each and every one.