Dec. 14, 2014
The minute I enter this house the Christmas spirit lights up in me. The classic holiday music by Perry Como and Johnny Mathis fill each room. I see the traditional decorations that I've known for most of my life. A perfect Christmas tree, cute animated snowman and Santa Claus, and artistic portrayals of angels throughout the main rooms.
The mantel over the fireplace looks like a Christmas card from olden days. Garland and poinsettias border high shelves. My sister Gay’s big smile and hug take me back to our childhood when Christmas was the most important time of the year for our family.
All seven children, even June who often lived in a distant state, gathered at our family home on the farm. Mother was prepared to cook for any size crowd that happened to show up for a meal in the days preceding December 25th, especially after June and her family arrived.
I sit here beside this Fraser fir that emits a scent of freshness and remember. Gay loved Christmas so much she wanted to have a Christmas tree farm. Stu, her husband came on board, Barry and I reluctantly joined in. It was an adventure we will never forget. We called it Santa’s Forest. The first day we opened for people to come and cut trees our hearts beat with happiness each time a vehicle arrived with a family of excited kids who couldn't wait to cut the perfect tree.
No one knew how we had sweated in the hot summer sun, pruning twice each year, spraying for insects and fire ants. Gay worked harder than any of us. Soon all the work and the chemicals we used took a toll on me and Barry came to hate giving up his weekends to work at Santa’s Forest.
|Glenda and Gay heeling in little trees in winter. Will plant them a few weeks later.|
Eventually Gay ran the farm all alone, hiring young men and training them to prune correctly, to form a perfectly shaped tree. We had to plant Virginia pines instead of Fraser firs which would not grow in the heat.
When Gay sold the business she had five acres in trees with one acre ready each year to harvest. Even our father, a man who seldom praised anyone in his family, was obviously proud of her. She had built a successful business.
Since Barry is gone now, I spend Christmas with Gay and Stu in their house that exudes Christmas. This morning they are at church where they sing in the choir. I am sure their rendition of the Messiah, which the choir will sing for two services, is beautiful. If I didn’t have MCS, a serious sensitivity to perfume, I’d try to be there, but a church filled with people is not healthy for me.
I hope you, my readers, have delightful holidays wherever you live around the world. We need to turn our thoughts to love and peace, to cherish people in our lives and reach out to those less fortunate, even if they are different from us, to remember “Christmas is not just a day, but a frame of mind.”*
Millions of people, even those who don’t know the original Christmas story, celebrate life at this time. I think that is wonderful.
*From Miracle on 34th Street