When you’re young the meaning of Christmas leans more towards what you get for Christmas instead of, the Reason for the Season.
As a child I remember going out in the woods to look for a tree for Christmas. I hated having a pine tree for Christmas, I knew there wouldn’t be very much under the tree on Christmas morning, but we were always grateful for what we did get.
I wanted our Christmas tree to be like other people’s tree. The kind with the pretty flat and full branched. That almost looked silvery sometimes. The pine trees that we had where the candelabra pine and had a minimal number of branched. As they say in the South, “ you could read through it.”
So I took the path that lead across the marsh to an area that was pretty heavily wooded to look for a cedar tree. Our choices on the Island where just a little better than, take it or leave it, we could have a cedar or a pine, if you could locate a Cedar tree. I had waited until low tide to take the short cut across the marsh. It was a little muddy, but I never mined getting in the marsh mud. I crawled across the large fallen pine tree always careful to watch out for the rattlesnakes, and walked my normal path through the thicket looking for a young cedar tree. I was thrilled to locate one after much searching, and went running back to the house to get my Daddy to come and cut it down.
He grumbled most of the way back, “Couldn’t you find one a little closer to home?” That was just how Daddy was, gruff when he was kidding me. We drug it home and I was really pleased that we would at least have a tree that you couldn’t read through, for Christmas.
It wasn’t as pretty as I had pictured in my mind, but I was just a kid and I vowed that one-day I would buy my own pretty Christmas tree.
The Christmas of 1989 I found myself back home with my father for Christmas. Daddy probably remembered how I felt about the pine trees for Christmas, but he never said anything. Neither of us talked much. Daddy was in bad health and when he did say something he would make comments like, "It’s just like having your mother back. You burn everything you cook.”
I had a feeling this could be my father’s last Christmas and he wasn’t in favor of a tree. The thicket had been replaced with homes so I didn’t have to worry about having an ugly pine tree for Christmas.
Always when I went home, I picked up the pinecones in the vacant lot behind our house and Roy helped me make a Christmas tree out of Pinecones. We turned a tomato cage upside down and started wiring pinecones to it to make our Christmas tree.
I added colored lights and made bows out of red ribbon and cut up some packing foam and made the squares look like little packages, wrapping them in white and red printed fabric and tied them with a bow.
We sat our tree in front of the double window and plugged in the lights.
Daddy said it was the prettiest tree he had ever seen. We even had a neighbor stop and come inside to see the tree she had been admiring in the window.
It still wasn’t the pretty blue spruce that I had wanted as a child, but I knew the reason for the season and I wanted it to be very special for my Father.
It snowed on Christmas Eve and we had six inches on the ground by Christmas morning. It was the first white Christmas that anyone could remember on Tybee Island. I drove around the island taking pictures, of the white marches, and the partially frozen tide water ponds, the light house grounds covered with snow, so I could show them to my Father.
I had as many family members as possible to come for Christmas dinner and later that evening after everyone had left. Daddy said. “Today was one of the best Christmas’ I had ever had.”
My father died 17 days later. I’ll never forget the earliest Christmas with the pine tree and the last Christmas I would spend with my father in the same house. I had hated having a pine tree Christmas tree and yet the pine cone tree had been beautiful. Of course, knowing the Reason for the Season can change the vision from within.