I was reminded the other day of one my most wonderful memories — picking out the Christmas tree.
Pressly and her daughter Pearl Giltner made the journey upcountry to their hometown in Chester last week. It was for a very special reason: to get the “tree.” Pressly posted pictures of a beautiful cedar tree standing proudly and beautifully in the middle of a field looking very regal. The next picture that was posted showed the lovely specimen lashed to the top of Pressly’s little automobile with her dear Papa standing nearby. It was a charming sight and I am glad to report the little car and the beloved contents inside and out made the three or so hour trip back to Bluffton in one piece.
Our family always did the same thing at Christmas. We would all pile into the car or truck and head out to the country to a friend’s farm. Sometimes it would take most of the day because, besides finding our tree, we had to find decorations. There were smilax vines to find, holly to pick, mistletoe to coax from the top of a tree and pine cones to collect for the fireplace.
Once home, my mother would drape smilax all over the top of the fireplace and the molding at the top of the walls near the ceiling. The tree was usually cedar or pine; it just had to be at least 6 feet tall. The marvelous smell of greenery and wood was throughout the house. We loved the hunt whether the weather was wet or cold, and all of this took place a week before the big day.
On Christmas eve our the fun began. The tree was put up and then decorating started. After the lights were put on and some ornaments added, construction paper garlands we had made were draped around the tree and then the tinsel iced our beauty. An old quilt or blanket covered the bottom to hide the stand. A few presents were placed around the tree because the “real” goodies were added after we went to sleep.
On Christmas morning, we were not allowed downstairs until everyone was awake. Of course we children had been up most of the night. Then we were given our stockings filled with oranges and peppermint candy. The real treat was seeing all of the surprises Santa had left for us and checking to see if he had eaten the cookies we left for him. My father always left Santa a bit of bourbon in a glass instead of milk because he said it would keep him jolly on his long trip.
When you think of your favorite Christmas memory, I wonder if it is an experience you shared with family. Material objects are fleeting and it might be exciting at first to get them, but I think they soon lose their luster.
I know there are not many places one can go to in the country now to search for a tree. Besides there are lots of places to buy them. One year, Don went to Home Depot on Christmas Eve and saw people dragging leftover trees to the back of the building. Instead of what he went for, he came home with three beautiful Fraser Fir trees we put all around our house, and the sight and smell was wonderful. We could barely get from room to room but it was fun and the children were thrilled.
I have seen shoppers in a real twit trying to find the perfect present for the person who has everything. But maybe that is just what you think. Maybe they are lacking the gift of “you.” I think it would be neat to invite the person to lunch at a fun restaurant, to a great movie, for a fun bicycle jaunt around Palmetto Bluff, a walk on the beach and then a drink at one of the oceanfront hotels or just a walk around Bluffton. I bet that would be a very welcome gift and you would get to enjoy it with them.
Don’t forget to ride around looking at all of the beautifully decorated yards and houses around Bluffton. If you have a chance, head to Shelter Cove Towne Centre on Hilton Head for the Dove Street Festival of Lights. You will be dazzled by all of it.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and that you, too, make wonderful memories that will last all year.
Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street or at firstname.lastname@example.org.