Tale of A Christmas Tree

Each year when my family decorates the Christmas tree, we make over the ornaments I've collected over a lifetime.  My mother began a tradition on my very first Christmas to buy a special ornament to mark each year and although some of mine were lost in a tornado many years ago, I still have most of them.  The tradition has expanded to include ornaments for each of my three children, my husband, and a few special friends.  The most special ornament of all though is a fragile blue glass tree topper my children call "the castle" and there's a reason for that.  The reason is best told with a story, of course, so here we go...

My Uncle Roy was as much sinner as saint, a boisterous man who drank vast amounts of beer, walked his entire postman's route each day, who feared no one and respected little.  He did, however, love his family and he possessed a loving heart hidden beneath his uniform or worn shirt.   When I was a child, my family moved away from the home city and everything familiar but we made plans to come back for Christmas.  We would stay with my granny, a sweet woman who just didn't believe in decorating much for the holidays.  Her decorations consisted of a pair of silver and red bells she hung up over a doorway, a music box made like a lighted church, a music box with ceramic angels that played "Silent Night", and maybe a wreath on the front door.

The old home neighborhood

Born before every American home boasted a Christmas tree, the notion remained a German custom to her.  When her three boys were small, probably with the urging of her husband, Otto Sontheimer, first generation German American, she did put up a tree but she hadn't since.  Even when she learned we were coming, she didn't plan to put up a Christmas tree.

We children were told not to complain.  After all we had a tree in our own new home so we couldn't fuss.  Christmas, we were told, didn't mean pretty trees and lights.  So with disappointment we didn't dare show, we trekked back home to Granny's house a few days before Christmas.

I hoped anyway but when we arrived, the living room and dining room looked just the same.  The few old decorations were in place but nothing more.  However, when we went upstairs to bed in the cold front bedroom once shared by my father and his brother, we opened the door to the fresh, crisp scent of evergreen and we whooped with delight.  A Douglas Fir rested in an old coal bucket against the wall and when I thanked Granny, she shook her head.

"I didn't have anything to do with that," she said. "That's your Uncle Roy's doing.  He said the kids have to have a tree for Christmas."

We rose the next morning to find the world covered with a beautiful December snow.  We trudged downtown to buy a few cheap decorations - all our special ornaments were at home on our own tree - and some lights.  The most beautiful thing we bought was the blue glass topper, "the castle".  We set up the tree in my grandmother's front room before the big window and we thought it was so lovely. For the first and only time in my memory, a Christmas tree sparkled and dominated the front room with splendor.

The giving wasn't over, either.  The weather'd been rough that December and so my grandmother senbt her eldest son, Uncle Roy, to buy gifts.  Her usual gifts to us were a new coloring book and crayons plus one article of clothing so that's what we expected.  Instead, we received that but I also got a doll, one of my last ever, a beautiful little thing named Emily (and I just happen to have named my oldest daughter Emily) and my first dictionary.  I loved the little paperback Merriam-Webster dictionary and all but wore it out.  Even then, I loved words, spun stories, and dreamed of being a writer.

So that year, my Uncle Roy filled the shoes of Santa as well because he delivered a Christmas tree and some extra presents on that long ago Christmas.   Over the years I've received many gifts, some memorable, some lost to the years but the small dictionary remains a favorite.  Whether he knew it or not - and I believe he did, he was a very insightful man - he fueled my dreams and helped me take baby steps toward my future as a writer and author.

That kind of holiday magic makes me believe in Christmas and was part of the inspiration for my upcoming Christmas release from Rebel Ink Press on December 3.  Sing We Now of Christmas doesn't have anything in common with my story here today but the spirit of hope and giving resonates through the novel.

So I believe in Christmas and I believe in the power of love!

-- Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

A Page In The Life http://leeannsontheimerwriterauthor.blogspot.com
Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy http://leeannsontheimermurphy.blogspot.com
Website: http://leeannwriter.weebly.com
Rebel Ink Press: http://rebelinkpress.com
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