A Memorable Christmas
My most memorable Christmas happened in the 50’s when I was 6.
I was an only child of two working parents with one of them always home by dinnertime. Yes, I had a babysitter but that’s another story in itself.
All three of us had gone the night before Christmas Eve to pick out a tree.
Didn’t matter if the weather had been balmy before, it was on that day so cold that you literally shook. And it wasn’t just one of us who liked big trees, we all did. Back then no one bought trees early or decorated early like today: it just wasn’t heard of. Somehow the man who sold the tree to us managed to secure the giant tree on top of our semi-frozen car and my parents dragged it into the house leaving a trail of Frazier fur needles throughout.
The tree was put into a corner as my dad had to go somewhere for his job on Christmas Eve day. He had promised to be home early that next day.
The day whizzed by and it started getting dark; my dad was not home yet. My mother decided that she and I would get the tree upright. But first she had to go to a neighbor’s house to get some rope to anchor the tree to the window casing. My job was to try to hold the tree against the window until she returned. That didn’t happen as in a matter of minutes it fell right smack backwards on me smashing me to the floor. Soon afterwards, my mother opened the door and started screaming because although she saw the tree on the floor, she couldn’t find me. Luckily, she found me underneath and managed to pull me out through the branches. I looked like I had been in a cat fight but other than that, I was fine. Can’t say the same for the tree: some branches were off and so were lots of pine needles. And I thought I was going to be grounded for life but it didn’t happen. We managed to prop up the tree and she tied it to the window casing. It’s amazing that a 90 pound determined woman and a little six year old girl could do that considering the tree was about seven feet tall and big around. But we did it!
After resting for a while, we put on the lights, garland and the ornaments and stood there in awe.
It was truly beautiful and we had done it by ourselves when usually my dad was there to help.
As luck would have it, it started pouring the snow and I heard my dad drive up to the house.
He just couldn’t believe that the tree was standing [well sort of] in its full glory. Nor could he believe it when he saw me covered in scratches.
We told him the whole story and he just shook his head. “Determined women!” he said.
That night was miraculous in lots of ways. The tree was up, it was snowing, my dad was home and for the first time in my so-called little life, I had help accomplish an unbelievable task. There were to be lots more Christmases in my life and hopefully more to come, but that truly was the most unforgettable one ever. The presents I received were just what I wanted, the family was together and all was well. But the best present I received or ever received was a feeling of self-esteem and accomplishment.
And I would hold onto that from then to now. Sometimes what you think will turn out to be tragic will be exactly the opposite. That’s the miracle I experienced that Christmas.
Sharon Reed Hill
Published in the WV Gazette