When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to travel “over the hills and through the woods” to my Grandmother’s house. Unfortunately, our journey was over slushy freeways in wind chills below zero, to Grandma’s brick bungalow in Chicago.
I’d enter her house hoping for the scent of fresh-baked gingerbread cookies. But my grandmother’s kitchen was more likely to smell of blood sausage and sauerkraut than my sugar-coated fantasies! As for my other grandmother who hailed from Sweden – her specialties were pickled herring and fruitcake.
I was the only kid who lost weight over the holidays!
Putting up our tree tended to be less of a starry-eyed family bonding experience and more like an episode of 30 Rock. My dad was an engineer, which for some reason meant that stringing lights and hanging ornaments turned into an all-day affair peppered with expletives. It probably didn’t help to have me whining on the sidelines about our stupid smelly tree, as I kept hoping my mother and father would finally “get with it” like the rest of the neighbors. My friends celebrated Christmas in style–with an aluminum tree. I couldn’t understand why my parents wanted a boring Douglas fir when they could have a revolving silver tree complete with a brightly lit color wheel.
Fortunately, my taste has improved, and I no longer want to rock around a tree that resembles a skinny disco ball. When my children were young, I was determined they would have wonderful memories of their own. We live in Placerville, California, the Christmas tree capital of the world. What better holiday tradition for my kids than wandering through a tree farm or two and chopping down our own tree?
Chopping down a Christmas tree isn’t quite as romantic as it sounds. Every year we’d tour farm after farm, trudging up hills and sliding down muddy trails. We eliminated giant redwoods and Charley Brown pipsqueaks. Nothing but the best tree would do for us. My son, a “city slicker in training” continually lamented why our family had to slop around in the December rain instead of buying a tree from Safeway like normal folks.
I kept up the tradition even after I became a single Mom. That first year, the tree fell over daily, strewing broken ornaments everywhere. My daughter attempted to smooth the base of the trunk with the tiny saw from her dollhouse kit but to no avail. Just as I had given up and decided the Samples would celebrate with a horizontal tree, my ex stopped by and sawed down the trunk. It remains what it should be–a funny holiday memory.
I’m sure you all have great stories of your own. Share a holiday memory by December 21st, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Won’t that make a terrific present!
THANKS EVERYONE FOR SHARING YOUR WONDERFUL HOLIDAY STORIES. THE WINNER OF THE AMAZON GIFT CARD IS NORMA HUSS.