As I remember it Christmas was a special time when I was a child. It seems as though Christmas went on for weeks.
Mom would start baking cookies and making candy as soon as Thanksgiving was over. About two weeks before the big day it would be dad and my job to find a real live tree! Living on a farm, we would start scouting out a likely candidate about the 4th of July. The major obstacle would always be the fact that some trees would turn brown as soon as cold weather hit, with ax in hand and battling the cold and snow , the idea tree would always be the brownest tree on the farm. Then it was off trudging through the cold and snow in search of another tree. What started out as a fifteen-minute job would always wind up taking half of a day or more.
Cold, wet, and half frozen, we would finally return triumphantly with a perfect tree. The next task would be to find something to place the tree in, this was in the days before tree stands, so a bucket filled with rocks or coal would have to do. It was always a major task, enough to try the patience of Job, to get the tree situated “just right” in the bucket without having the bucket, tree and coal fall all over the floor. It wasn’t uncommon to lose one’s religion several times during the ordeal.
After the tree was decorated, there was nothing much to do except wait for the arrival of Santa.
A typical Christmas normally consisted of four events, the first of which would be the Sunday preceding Christmas. My Aunt, Uncle and Cousins lived in Indianapolis, they would come to my grandparents(mom’s side) and thus the first
celebration would begin. I automatically knew that if my most cherished present didn’t arrive, I still had three more chances.
Now the tension was building! Christmas Eve had arrived, first thing on the agenda was church, and Santa would normally come while we were at services. When we were ready to leave for church, I never could understand why dad and I would have to wait in a cold car for mom to come out, we never did that any other time.
As soon as church was over, it was time for Santa, normally one of my sets of grandparents would come over Christmas Eve and enjoy the evening, and unwrap gifts that Santa had brought while we were gone.
Christmas Day, all the grandparents would arrive just before dinner, and the rest of the day was spent eating, unwrapping gifts and playing with them. My grandpa Wonning was retired so he would start wrapping gifts about Labor Day. When the gifts they brought were put under the tree, it seemed they would fill a pickup truck.
Grandpa would take the smallest item, say a pack of gum and start wrapping and wrapping and wrapping. Using string, tape, glue and lots of newspaper, that pack of gum would be the size of a basketball by the time he finished! My brother and I would spend hours unwrapping gifts, and when finished unwrapping, covered with newspaper we thought no one
had received more gifts than we had.
Each year the unwrapping became more difficult, soon my brother and I joined in and started returning the favor. Baling wire, twine string and glue became more common,
it finally ended one year as my brother nailed his gifts in a wooden box with spike nails! We decided no one could top that one, grandpa was getting older and could no longer spend the time wrapping, so a time honored tradition ended.
The final event of Christmas would be at my Great Grandmothers house, it would normally be sometime during the
week following Christmas. It would always be a huge affair as the whole family would show up, normally about 30 people. The gift exchanges were pretty much over by then, however, a lot of fun was had enjoying each
others company and grandmothers good cooking.
His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.
He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.
He has published several books about his adventures.
For more information, please consult his website,www.journeysthrulife.com.
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