“The Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”
— Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
Many a Christmas tree at the Prairie house have come from the woods where we collected the most perfect native Christmas tree. At one time, when more of the family lived at home, the tree was tremendous. The top of the tree nestled just under the peak of the vaulted ceiling. It was secured at the base in a bucket of rocks and anchored with ties at the top of the stairway. With two of us below and the other two hanging from the rafters we looked like sailors hoisting a sail. As time would have it the tree would shrink year after year as did the number of tree trimmers. The Christmas tree was relocated to the opposite side of the living area. It is still secured at the base and tied to a lower beam above. Once you’ve had a decorated tree hit the floor it will be forever be anchored.
Once our Christmas trees were theme based but nowadays decorations are traditional with red and green large bulbed lights, gold tinsel, red garland, candy canes, plain Christmas balls with a touch of glitter. Some decorations are gifts, keepsakes or handmade. Mostly the Christmas tree is a reminder of the many things we celebrate that can’t be kept under the tree: Jesus the Christ child, those we love, and our many blessings.
My childhood memory is of the tree’s “bubble lights.” Hours were spent staring at the tree and watching the ornament bubble. Over the years I’ve looked for bubble lights to no avail until this year. I found a set of seven bubble lights and added them to the string of red and green bulbs. Today it is no less mesmerizing. I sent pictures to family members who asked, “What is that?” Seems the bubble lights had gone the way of transistor radios, hula hoops, snap on roller skates tied with pom poms, Mr. Potato Head, Matchbox cars, Play-doh, Silly Putty, marbles and malls with sock stores.
People celebrate Christmas in different ways. Some families gather early and quickly rip into gifts while others are slow and methodical allowing each person to open their gift and display it all around. Some people arranged the gifts under the tree by recipient while others are completely random. My birth family was methodical. We lined up at the living room door. I announced the youngest person should go first. Which was of course me. The next year it would be the shortest person. Again, it was me.
Our now family openings were random with paper and ribbons flying everywhere. My first Christmas at the Prairie house there were piles of presents. Off to the side was a smaller pile and I thought surely it would be my pile. As it turned out, not to be ignored, it was the dog’s pile and a sweet memory. This Christmas will be even smaller with one gift for each of us, a mountain of love, an abundance of Christmas memories, bubble lights and Sam’s favorite chocolate covered cherries. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Shannon Bardwell is a writer living quietly in the Prairie. Email reaches her at [email protected]