At this this time of year, I miss Christmas’s past, those of years ago when I was a kid–and continued to miss those throughout most of my life. The excitement was greater by far then, the anticipation grew more intense by the day as Christmas drew near. There were parties to attend, presents to look forward to, and holiday spirit filled the air. Christmas carols were heard and sung everywhere I went. I even sang a few myself. The songs, and the music that went with them, seemed to cheer everyone up, seemed to trigger the transition into the holiday season beginning the day after Thanksgiving.
I especially miss the old days of Christmas in a rural area–days of my youth. Christmas meant Christmas trees each year. In the country, one does not go to a tree lot to buy a dried-out and sometimes-scraggly, exorbitantly priced Christmas tree. Instead, in rural areas one packs their recently sharpened ax, heads to the nearest wooded area, scouts out the best fir tree there, and harvests it.
Tree-cutting day is an exciting time for kids. I remember vividly, with sentimental pining, my brother Fred’s and my adventures into the woods to find the perfect tree to take home. Most times we had scouted that tree for a year or two prior to actually cutting it for Christmas–found and located it precisely during the warm summer months on the farm in Belfast, Maine.
During our summertime tree-scouting explorations we unfailingly, on our way, stopped by a bubbling, crystal-clear artesian spring–known only to us hidden in a clearing close to the edge of the woods–for a cold drink on a hot summer afternoon. Refreshed, we continued on to our future Christmas tree, or perhaps several trees of differing heights, where we cleaned anything growing nearby so it would have some sunlight and not be crowded out by the underbrush. We monitored its growth until it had reached just the right height for our living room–slightly over six feet tall.