Monday, December 09, 2013

Christmas time ~ My column from Sunday's paper

It’s Christmas time at the Watson house. My wife Jilda and I have funny ideas about holidays. We like to celebrate Christmas, at Christmas.

We have friends and family with grandchildren who are so excited, they put the tree up at Halloween. Usually by Christmas afternoon, they are sick of the tree.

We wait until the second week of December to get our tree. That’s always a fun day.

We have a tradition of selecting live trees with root balls that we plant on New Years Day.

Years ago we bought our trees from Frye’s Christmas Tree Farm near Burroughs Crossing off of Highway 69.

The first time we went out there, I got to know Mr. Frye and found out that he too was in the Army, and like me he’d spent a Christmas in the Panama Canal Zone.

The trees we bought from him are now well over 30 feet tall.

He got out of the tree business some time back so we had to find a new source for our Christmas trees.

We located a place a few years ago and headed out early to Pine Hill Farms, which is a fitting name because it has rolling hills with row after row of trees of all sizes.

This place was abuzz with tree shoppers who walked among the trees and select the one they wanted. A crew of young folks would then descend on the tree, cut it down or dig it up and load in on the customer’s vehicle.

They had a full sized Christmas sleigh. I quickly coaxed Jilda up on the seat and snapped a photo for our Christmas album. They also have live reindeer, which are somewhat shy, but are a sight to see.

As we wandered among the spruce and cypress, a snowflake as big as a quarter drifted down and kissed Jilda on the chin. Our spirits soared. While we walked, Mother Nature dusted the ground with a
layer of snow as fine as face powder.

When we went inside the gift shop to pay, the aroma of hot apple cider drew us to the corner. There is nothing better than hot cider on a cold day.

In addition to waiting to put up a tree, we refuse to listen to Christmas music until December. We dodge radio stations that play holiday music until it’s the holidays.

When we do start playing, the first record we put on is Windham Hill’s December. It’s an album of Christmas music played on a piano without any additional instrumentation. It’s one of the most beautiful collections I’ve ever heard.

When I was growing up, my mom always put her Christmas decorations up the weekend after Thanksgiving.

All the kids, grandkids, in-laws and outlaws gathered to put up mountains of lights, plywood cutouts of snowmen, elves, sleighs, and of course Santa.

My mom would spend weeks prior to Thanksgiving making fruit cakes, banana nut bread, divinity candy, and blocks of fudge as big as a deck of cards. She also made a vat of her world famous Christmas punch, and after the decorations were up, the family would pile into her living room and sugar up.

I feel bad for Thanksgiving. It has always been one of my favorite holidays, but I fear that one day soon it will be known only as Black Thursday where employees are forced to work so that shoppers can fight over cheap flat screen TVs for Christmas.

Call me old fashion, but I’m happy with the notion that holidays are gifts, and for us, it’s not Christmas until December.

Read more: Daily Mountain Eagle - Christmas should come on time 


  1. Great post! Loved hearing about your journey and then your memories of family! It all sounds wonderful and has a warm feeling despite the cold time of year. But most of all, I agree about wanting people to slow down and enjoy each holiday as it comes. How else will they have memories to hold on to later?

  2. I spoke again and again on my FB page about "Thanksgiving BEFORE Christmas." I refused to shop on Thanksgiving Day (sale or no sale) because I believe that the retailers were simply looking to make extra bucks at the expense of their employees who had to work on Thanksgiving Day. No way was I supporting that.
    I'm so glad that you purchase a tree that can be planted. Bless you and those you love!

  3. Great column Rick... I agree... it's Christmas when it's Christmas... not when it's Thanksgiving ;-)

  4. I hope that Thanksgiving does not turn into Black Thursday. I think it also depends on customers when they want to shop. If enough people stay home and enjoy instead of rushing to the stores we can still save Thanksgiving.
    You are doing great with the column. Wow!

  5. Hi Rick...just popped over to take a look at your blog.
    I love it...can so relate to what you're saying here!
    Yes...please let's leave Christmas until Christmas.
    Here, in the UK, they start selling mince pies and Christmas puddings in July. It really irritates me, because surely, this is totally missing the point of having a special holiday - or am I missing something?!
    And I love the fact that you plant out your trees after Christmas. We Druids do the same after Winter Solstice. We would never sacrifice the life of a tree for any celebration of ours. All life is Sacred!
    A brilliant and thought-provoking post...I love it :)

  6. Dear Rick, this posting is lovely for it is filled with the Advent expectation that leads to fulfillment at Christmas and I so applaud your not rushing into the celebration without the slow moving toward it that is the season of Advent.

    I decorated my tree yesterday and must admit that I listen to a brass ensemble playing Christmas carols--no words just the music. Like you, I so enjoy "December," which, I believe, is the piano playing of George Winston. The audio cassette I have of "December," was the first music I played when I entered Advent on December 1.

    Thank you for putting the season in perspective. Peace.

  7. The traditions of my youth mean it is Christmas time. Forget the shopping and the commercials! I love your tree shopping! Wish it were so here.

  8. What a lovely happy post. : )

  9. Anonymous2:07 PM

    I hope it's not too early to wish you & Jilda a Merry Christmas!!

  10. One year I didn't put up the tree until December 21 or 22...or maybe it was the 23rd. I am a procrastinator. So, I left it up a little longer after New Year's to enjoy it. Until...Valentine's Day.
    The ornaments actually had a fine layer of dust on them when I finally took the tree down. That may have been the year my daughter took over tree duty.

  11. I like the idea of going to choose a tree and deciding which one to dig out.
    Otherwise the ones not sold go into the chips pile. Such a waste.
    The preparation for Christmas is what is fun. In the old days people made their own presents so they had to start early and they had to hide what they were doing. By the time Christmas came along every one was already all hyped up.

  12. Thanks all, for your kind words. I've gotten a lot of comments from people who read the column in the paper on Sunday.
    It seems a lot of folks agree.


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