While walking around a home decor store the other day, I came to a forest of artificial Christmas trees. One beautiful tree caught my eye and I walked closer to see what the price of such a tree would be. Its $599 price surprised me, and it didn't even smell like a real tree.
When I was a girl, I got the chance to help get a real tree that smelled like the outdoors and its cost was not monetary, but very taxing physically.
My 10-year-old brother, Robert, and a friend, Bruce, decided to climb up One Horse Canyon east of our North Ogden home and get a Christmas tree for our family. I begged to go with them and they finally said I could if I would keep up and not cry. Off we went trudging through the fields, on past our orchards and up to the snowy mountain. I did pretty good that far, but it was still hard work for a skinny little girl.
As we entered the canyon, Robert looked for the perfect tree until he found just the right one. Then he and Bruce climbed the tree, getting sap on their clothes and needles in their hair until they felt there was enough of the tree above them to decorate our house. After the tree top tumbled to the ground and the boys rested, we started our descent.
It didn't take long until, like any young child, I could go no further. I started to cry and Robert kindly said, "Sit down and grab hold of the tree trunk and we'll pull you down." So sniffling and sliding through the snow we descended as the day darkened. We were just below, when we saw Grandpa's porch light come on and heard his voice calling us, carrying easily through the winter air.
After we answered we saw his car back out of the driveway and he was on his way to rescue us. The arduous day ended, but not the memories.
My young brother, Mike, was about 16 when he decided to cut a tree. He chose Cold Water Canyon about a half-mile north of One Horse, and talked a friend into going with him.
After they cut the tree, they headed for home, going along the path by the side of the canal. Upon reaching the house, however, and standing the tree up, Mike discovered all the branches on one side were scraped off from being dragged all the way home. The folks thought that if we stood the tree up with the empty side against the wall it would look just fine. And, it did.
I guess cutting our own trees was in our blood. My sister, Sylvia, was a teenager when she tagged along with my brother-in-law, Max up One Horse. He hiked at a good gait and when he stopped and she caught up with him, he started off again, leaving her no time for a puff.
She said it was a marathon hike. Coming down was different. In trying to cross the steep canyon to get to the trail on the other side, she had to sit and slide, getting stickers and dirt on her pants. When they arrived home, my father asked for the saw they'd taken. Reaching to her back pocket where she had put it before they descended, she discovered it must have slipped out when she slid.
We gained a feeling of achievement, young as we were, for accomplishing something hard. Christmas lot trees might only have been a dollar then, but our experience was something we won't forget. Our parents evidently felt we were capable, and let us carry on a Christmas tradition that is fun to remember.
We rarely had a turkey for Christmas dinner because there were plenty of chickens in the coop to take its place.
The killing of the chicken proved some gross entertainment before we could turn on the television and see men knocked half dead and bleeding, then get up and fight some more.
In the chicken's case, after the head was cut off, it got up and staggered around until the message from the severed head reached the chicken. Most of my siblings and I thought it was hilarious.
After the chicken was killed our parents dunked it in a bucket of hot water to loosen the feathers (the water smelled terrible), then plucked it, singed the feather ends still sticking out and proceeded to remove the chicken's insides, being careful not to puncture the fecal sack or you would end up with a flavoring that would be inedible.
We kids watched and thought it was amazing to see the gravel inside the gizzard, which had been separated from the corn and wheat the chicken picked from the ground. We forgot all the former proceedings when we saw the brown roasted chicken on our table.
It doesn't take much to turn my thoughts back to "pre-buy everything" holidays, and its fun to try old recipes.
Now, if I can just find my carrot pudding recipe.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!