My dad hated artificial Christmas trees and vowed we’d never have one. For the entire time we lived on Ezekiel, we always had a fresh tree. His favorite was spruce, so that’s what we’d get. The window in the alcove was always decorated with stencils and Glass Wax. My brother and I would dab it on with a sponge, remove the stencil, and Voila! We also sprayed the windows with plenty of fake snow. Meanwhile, dad and mom were attempting to get the tree into the stand so that it wasn’t crooked, which usually took several minutes of adjusting and colorful language to accomplish. The lights were the huge painted bulbs that came in colors such as blue, orange, white, red and green. Mom and dad would get the lights on first, and then my brother and I helped with the garland, ornaments and icicles. Then a dusting of snow was sprayed over all, the star was placed, and the tree was pushed back into the alcove. Dad would make a huge production of turning off all the lights before the tree was plugged in, and then…magic. The Christmas music was turned on, and everything else just melted away. The heat from the lights released the fragrance of the pine, and that wonderful smell just filled every corner of our house and wrapped itself around us like nature’s blanket. I still find intense comfort in the glow of a beautiful Christmas tree accompanied by the lovely music of the season. It is one of my favorite things in life. It was so exciting for us kids, waiting for Santa to come. Our parents spoiled us rotten when it came to presents, but they never put everything under the tree all at once. A few presents that came from relatives were usually placed under the tree. One year, my aunt sent me a present with a burgundy metallic wrapping paper that had a repetitive design of an adorable smiling santa holding up a calendar page that warned: Do Not Open Until December 25th. How I loved that paper! We would always be on our best behavior so that Santa would come visit us. Our parents encouraged our belief, and it was always so hard to sleep on Christmas Eve. I wanted to stay awake to hear the reindeer when they landed on our roof. Morning would come, and my brother and I would leap out of bed and run to the tree. Lo and behold, it was bursting with presents! The tree was plugged in, the music put on, and we would sit side by side on the floor in our little trapdoor pajamas (yep, we had ’em!) just waiting to dive into the pile. When we were finished, the entire living room was littered with paper, ribbons, boxes and bows, with the new presents scattered all around us. We usually had turkey or ham as the main course for our dinner. There were also sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing (for the turkey), vegetables, cranberry sauce, a relish tray and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. I would learn years later that my dad had been raised a Jehovah’s Witness, so he hadn’t celebrated Christmas, yet he enjoyed giving us kids Christmases to remember. I’m so glad that he did.

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