By Margie Wright
For the Appeal
The Christmas season of 1946 was very special for me. The Christmas Eve program was a big event for the community at my one-room country school. There was always a play about the birth of Jesus, readings, poems and songs.
As I listened attentively for my time to recite a poem and join in a group reading, I became keenly aware that far away and long ago, a baby was born, and the world was forever changed. Santa Claus distributed gifts and candy. The audience, consisting of our families and neighbors, joined the students in singing Christmas hymns. The final hymn "Silent Night! Holy Night!" concluded the program.
My family was the first to exit the schoolhouse to a silent white world of softly falling snow. It was a magical wondrous night. When we got home, I placed my gifts of a hair comb and candy under our small Christmas tree. I was 9 years old, and that was the first Christmas tree in our home.
The weekend before Christmas, my sister and I located, cut and carried home a small cedar tree. We stood it upright in a tin syrup can filled with rocks and gravel from the creek. We cut strips of paper from our school tablets, colored them with crayons, made paste from flour and water, glued our chain links together and decorated our Christmas tree.
Later, Mom used a piece of cardboard to fashion a star, which we placed on top of our Christmas tree. The next day, Dad brought home clusters of bright red climbing bittersweet berries, which we laid on the branches. It was a beautiful Christmas tree.
On Christmas morning, as my sister and I raced to the kitchen for breakfast, we stopped when we saw additional gifts on the table under our Christmas tree. There were three oranges and new gloves; in addition, leaning against the table was a sled Dad had made. It had a front crosspiece for our feet, a rope to pull the sled, and smooth, well-shaped runners for speed.
After the morning farm chores were finished, my family shared the oranges. Then Dad took us to a small hill in front of the house to try our new sled, then to a longer hill north of the house where Mom and my baby brother joined the fun. Mom helped us make a snowman and showed us how to make angel imprints in the snow.
That beautiful sunlit morning, my sister and I made many angel imprints in the snow as we waited our turn to use our sled and fly down the hill with Dad's help. In the afternoon, while my brother napped, Mom and Dad made a game outline in the snow and showed us how to play Fox and Geese. We ran, fell and laughed until we obliterated the trails we were supposed to follow.
As I look back, the season of that first little Christmas tree brought so much love, so much joy and so much peace into my life it has sustained me through the many tornado-like tough times that have followed.