Memories of old-time holidays in the hills

THURMAN - Often when I stoke my woodstove and look out on the snowdrifts, I remember the magical days in my youth, the days that annually preceded Christmas.

A particularly special day was when we went out in the woods to cut down a Christmas tree.

The whole family would put on heavy coats, snow pants, hats & mittens and winter boots - then strap on their snowshoes for a walk through the deep snow into the woods, which was less than a half-mile away. Dad carried the ax and was usually first to trudge a path for us to follow. Being energetic kids we sometimes went off the path because we thought we had found the perfect tree!

Often, looking at many beautiful evergreens and snowshoeing over hills and deep into the woods, we finally found one that everyone agreed was perfect. We all stood back as Dad chopped the tree down. Then we all took turns trying to carry the tree to our front porch where it was kept until the next day.

Dad had to shave or cut the base down to fit in the tree stand, but that was put on hold as we were hungry, cold and tired. Us kids had to carry in wood, while Dad got the fires going in the wood stoves and Mom was busy in the kitchen trying to get dinner started. One of us kids usually ran down cellar to get a home-canned quart of meat for Mom and then we had to hang our snowshoes up and get our other tasks done before dark. We usually had to carry in pails of water to fill the reservoir on the kitchen stove, and keep another pail for drinking water.

After all the chores were done, including dishes, we gathered round to make decorations for the tree, usually made out of colored construction paper and then out came crayons and scissors to make special cards for the close neighbors and friends. All of this was done with kerosene lamps to light up the room.

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