Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spreading Joy

To celebrate Advent, I'm starting a series about remembered joy - the Joy of Christmas Past. Each Sunday I'll write about a favourite Christmas memory or tradition, something that comes to my mind every year at this blessed time, something the remembrance of which brings me joy.

My grandfather lived on a mountain ranch in Northern California. To my siblings and me - denizens of pavemented, traffic-filled Southern California - his property was a Paradise on earth, with its views of mountains and forests, the rush of water from the stream that tumbled across his land, the exciting possibility of snow. Our visits Up North, as we called it, were all too few and far-between, anticipated for months and sometimes years.

But Grandpa never forgot us. Each year, in the first week of December, he would go out on his land and find a Christmas tree for us. He'd cut it down, swaddle it snugly in burlap and twine, and mail it to us through the U.S. Postal Service. (It took several days to reach us.)

Every December we waited eagerly for the postman's knock on the door. He would hand us the bulky bundle, then drive off in his Jeep. (He normally made his rounds on foot, so the Jeep lent an added importance to our special delivery.)

My dad would take the precious tree out to the back porch, cut the twine and remove the wrappings, and set it in a bucket of water. Within a day the branches would relax and we'd bring the tree inside for decorating.

The smell of those Christmas trees from Grandpa was almost as good as being in the mountains they came from. With one sniff, we could close our eyes and see the snow and the pines, hear the crick running over the rocks, and feel the freshness of the mountain air.

My grandpa has long since departed this earth, but every Christmas I remember the trees he sent us and the joy they brought into our home. I see again his house in the mountains, surrounded by beauty of woods and water. I remember his quiet demeanor, his shy spirit, his unsung generosity. Thank you, Grandpa T.


Do you have a favourite Christmas memory or tradition? If so, I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment, or use the button from the sidebar and write a post of your own about a Joy of Christmas Past (or Christmas Present). Let's spread some Christmas happiness!

P.S. This isn't the post I set out to write. Feeling stressed by circumstance (extra hours coming up at work while a co-worker tends to her sick husband, Christmas looming, crochet projects piling up around me, all requiring such lofty levels of self-discipline as would befit an astronaut preparing for a trip to the moon), I fully intended to gripe a gentle gripe and ask you to gripe in return. But Fate, in the guise of Pomona at Little Cottage Comforts, took a hand and steered my thoughts in a happier direction. (Thank you, Pomona.)

P.P.S. Having just now re-read Pomona's post and followed the links contained therein, I see that Trocbroc is hosting a very similar event to this, called A Pause in Advent 2011. (Click on those words to read her lovely poem "Cooking in the Kitchen of My Ancestresses".)

P.P.P.S. Don't forget Mrs. Micawber's Thanksgiveaway. Entries close midnight Wisconsin time, Monday November 28. Click here to enter.

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  1. A wonderful story! I can't imagine what it would cost to send a Christmas tree these days - or if they'd even do it! What a nice memoroy. Ah, simpler times ...

  2. Sue, this is such a wonderful story! And I'm really glad you were "saved" from your original plan for a post. Reading this was a treat. I will have to ponder and come up with some of my own.

  3. How wonderful! I can't believe the U.S. Mail delivered it! There is no better smell than a fresh tree, and though we could save a lot of money if we'd break down and buy an artificial one, the smell of a fresh one is my strongest memory of Christmas's past and and I won't give it up.

  4. I enjoyed your story, I love real Christmas trees too, though haven't had one through the post before!

  5. A lovely story Sue, so good to have memories such a this.

    Some years ago we were able to send parcels by bus from one bus station to another, very cheaply too.

  6. I love this memory!! What a treat to receive a real tree in the mail!! And the love that went into picking out and cutting down just the right tree for your sweet!!! I'm getting warm fuzzies!! Thank you for sharing stirs up lovely feelings of family and holidays! :)

  7. what a beautiful story, and remembrance of your grandfather... enjoyed it so much.

  8. I tried commenting on this last night, but I couldn't get the comment box to load. Always something...

    I really like what you are doing here, and I love your story. I may just have to dig up a story I wrote for my first newspaper so many years ago, I think dinosaurs were still walking the earth. I hadn't thought of that story in many, many years, so I thank you for reminding me by sharing one of your favorite memories. Receiving a tree in the mail really is a memory! And a unique one at that. No many people can say they've lived that kind of life!

  9. That's such a lovely story. I can't imagine a tree coming by post any more.
    It reminds me of our tradition growing up. We lived on an old farm estate with only 3 other houses and woodland and fields around us. One of our neighbours was a wonderful man, Ekke, who had fled germany into austria during WWII and from there to the UK. He had grown up amongst huge german forests and loved trees. At the beginning of December each year he selected and felled a tree for each house and also a larger one for the courtyard in the middle of our houses. We'd put lights on the tree and, on the first Sunday of December, light them for the first time and gather around to sing carols. It was a wonderul tradition to grow up with. Juliex


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