When Don and I married we each brought with us our families Christmas traditions. There was some give and take but we blended them as best we could. The pace was often hectic with three young children in tow but somehow we always muddled through. Within three years we once again had to revise our holiday traditions when our company transferred us to Indiana.
Our first Christmas in Indiana happened only two months of our moving there. While most of the other thirty individuals who were transferred with us were making plans to return to Michigan for Christmas, Don and I made the decision to stay put. Indiana was now our daughters home and we strongly felt that they needed to make holiday memories of their own right there.
We decided one tradition we would continue in our new state was going out and chopping down our Christmas tree. There’s nothing quite as heavenly as walking in from the crisp outdoors into the smell of fresh cut pine. I located a Christmas tree farm in the gently rolling hills of beautiful Brown County. We then loaded the girls and the dog into our old suburban to make the hour’s drive south.
Perhaps I should mention that the great room of our first Indiana house had a 24′ tall peaked ceiling. That year we brought home a 16′ tree. Combine that with the one foot tall speciality tree stand we purchased, you can well imagine just how HUGE this tree was. Thankfully the tree farm had wrapped it so getting it into the house wasn’t too difficult. We brought it right in the front door, up the stairs, then over the bannister to the floor below. Only the front of our tree was decorated that first year as we didn’t possess enough ornaments. In the eyes of our youngest though, it was still a wonderful sight to behold.
This was also when we began the tradition of dressing up in our finest togs to dine out in a fancy restaurant. We always followed this up by attending communion and Candlelight service at our little Methodist church. Now, let’s go back to that first Christmas tree.
The day after New Year’s is our official detrimming the tree day. Don brought in our tallest step ladder and started working from the top down while the girls and I made our way upward to meet him. We put everything lovingly back into their tissue filled boxes then stored them away in the garage. That’s when it hit us. How were we going to get this monstrous tree out the door. It was too tall and to heavy to lift up out of its stand. The lower branches having spread out several feet around the tree’s base were not going back out the door from whence they’d entered. That’s when Don was struck with a brilliant??? idea. Returning from the garage with his chainsaw in hand, he raised the two front windows, removed the screens and storms, then went about dismantling the tree in sections with pine needles and sawdust flying all over the living room furniture and carpet. All the ruckus drew the neighbors on our little cul de sac out in front of our house to gape.
That tree will forever live in our memories and those of our neighbors. From the following Christmas and beyond, our trees were of the standard size.
The traditions we started on that first Hoosier Christmas all those years ago remained with us long after our daughters had families of their own. They continued until our first Christmas as full time RVers.
Our first year on the road we returned to Indiana for Thanksgiving instead of Yuletide. Our oldest put up their tree early that season so we could hand out our presents while gathered round it. On Christmas Eve, mom and our daughters families held their traditional family get together while Don and I celebrated Christmas in a new and memorable way.
We spent that first Christmas in the quaint “Old Florida” town of Cedar Key where we joined in the townspeoples customary festivities. We attended our first ever Christmas boat parade. We were so enchanted by it that it has become a yearly, dare I say it, tradition. Afterwards we were invited to join in the town pitch-in at the city park and watch Santa arrive via airboat. We got the biggest kick out of seeing the youngsters run down the beach to greet him as he jumped off the boat clad in fishing waders with helper clams instead of elves to assist him in handing out candy canes and small gifts to the children. Although it was great fun and an experience we’ll long remember, we missed not being with our grandchildren and they with us. We made them a promise, barring any unfortunate circumstances, we would never again miss spending Christmas with them.
Once again our family’s Christmas traditions were revised and have continued to be tweaked each year, but the one thing that has remained constant through all the years is the love and joy found in the fellowship of family and friends.