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Homemade Christmas Tree

December 6, 2019

In Cedarfield tradition, the Pastoral Care Team created this compilation of holiday memoirs by team members and residents. We will share one a day through the holidays. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Rosie Whitehorne, Resident

I grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa during the Depression and World War II years. Like many families back then, our family of seven had the necessities, but enjoyed few extras. We grew or raised most of our food, were clothed in large part through my mother’s dexterity with a needle and sewing machine, and made our meals from scratch. We learned to entertain ourselves by reading, playing cards and board games, fishing, and playing softball. As Christmas approached, we leafed through catalogs and pointed out what was on our wish list, hoping that Santa was listening. We never put up a tree until two or three days before Christmas. Advent, as a time of preparation, was important and precluded Christmas traditions too early. One year, when it came time to set up and decorate the tree, my mother told us we would not be buying a Christmas tree, but would “make our own.” We were, of course, surprised and quite disappointed. We did not know what “making our own” Christmas tree meant. She explained that my dad would help us and, indeed, he did.

We had a large windbreak of pine trees on the north and east sides of the homestead. My dad lopped off several large branches, brought them into the living room, and proceeded to stand and secure them in a five-gallon bucket of sand in the corner of our living room. The result was not the perfect conical shape that most of us look for in a tree, but once we set to decorating it, the shape did not seem to matter.

I never learned the reason for my parents’ austerity that Christmas. Over the years, however, I have often thought of that tree with great appreciation of my parents’ loving ingenuity.


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