We’ve had a live Christmas tree almost every year–when I was a child and now as an adult. When we were kids in WV, we’d go to a nearby Christmas tree farm (I mean, a mile or so away) and pick out a tree. Now, in Western NC, the tree farms are higher up in the mountains so I settle for a pre-cut tree from a lot on the side of the road.

But when Dad was young, they had real Appalachian Christmas trees. By this I mean my grandfather would go out and cut a tree in the woods. You know, a scraggly, scrawny tree with bare spots, a crooked trunk, and branches every which-a-way. Then he’d gather some extra branches, drill holes in the trunk (with a hand drill), and insert the spares to fill out the tree.

What I wouldn’t give for a picture of one of those trees!

SantaThe decorations were simpler, too, and Dad still has one of them–a paperSnowman cutout Santa Claus that he’s had since his first Christmas. While I don’t have any ornaments that have been around that long, I do have a handful from my childhood–mostly homemade. There’s a wooden snowman along with Mr. & Mrs. Claus ornaments Mom and Dad painted when they were first married. I also have the felt Mary with her Little Lamb sewn by my mother.

I add to my ornaments each year, picking and choosing which to display as I unpack ornaments and remember . . . But none will ever be half so dear to me as the ones that carry me to Christmases past on the farm in West Virginia.