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A Christmas tree story

Some of the chores my younger brothers and I had to do when we were growing up on the farm were boring and unpleasant, to say the least.  

Keeping the water troughs in our hen house filled with fresh spring water 365 days a year is a case in point. We had an ample supply of water but no electricity, pump or pipes to get it to the chicken troughs. Therefore, we had to lug heavy buckets of water by hand up a steep bank to keep the hens drinking water, clucking and laying their eggs.  

The chore we welcomed with much anticipation and excitement, on the other hand, was finding, cutting and bringing home a Christmas tree.  

It was a habit of ours to keep a lookout for a healthy, well-shaped, 6-foot cedar tree year around. Anytime we went fishing, hunting or just roaming around in the countryside, we’d check out every branch, creek bank or scope of woods we crossed for that just right cedar tree.  

When we spotted one we thought might work, we’d take mental note and know where to go the next time we went Christmas tree hunting.  

Our chore was made more difficult in 1949 after an extreme drought scorched crops, dried up streams and stunted tree growth. When our mother finally turned us loose to go fetch a Christmas tree, we knew the task would be more challenging than in years past.  

What we found was a disappointment, to say to least. The cedars we’d spotted earlier had succumbed to the drought. They were no longer green; they had turned brown.   

After giving up on finding a suitable cedar tree, we began looking around for anything green and of the right size. What we found and dragged home was a two-headed loblolly pine tree.  

“I think we can make it work,” said our mother after eyeing the tree. “It’ll look different when it’s decorated.”  

Our unlighted decorations consisted of 12 colored glass balls, pine burrs, sweet gum balls covered with the silver lining from cigarette packages, garland made with colored strips of tablet paper and popcorn balls and a box of 10-cent icicles. 

After two hours of tirelessly decorating the tree, we stood back, looked and unanimously agreed: “It’s our prettiest Christmas tree ever!”