Christmas in July

Are they crazy? I couldn’t believe it when recently channel after channel was showing Christmas stories on television.

Hello, friends, it was over 100 degrees outside and these clowns were showing Christmas stories. Then, of course, they showed a scene with a couple dancing inside their log home.

Looking out through the windows, you could see many beautiful pine trees. I fell apart. If you’d tried to depict a home exactly like the one my Van and I owned in Lowman, Idaho, you couldn’t have done a better job. So, of course, I cried. But I was enjoying the quiet. My son Doug was outside watering or pruning or doing something to the homestead. Our puppies Molly and Riley napped at my feet.

I love these quiet moments. Don’t we all once we get past those middle years?

Christmas is such a spiritual time with its’ beautiful decorations, gift exchanging, and the wonderful music of this special holiday. Perhaps even atheists have to admit it’s nice to fill the void of winter days with all this special holiday season entails. This is especially true if you’re lucky enough to live where — God willing — it actually snows.

I have a “thing” about snow. For me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a landscape; even an urban scene; covered in a soft, white, clean blanket of snow. Everything suddenly becomes perfect and the world is in a better place, even if for just a little while. I’m from those olden days, back east, when the tree didn’t get put up until Christmas Eve and mom and dad spent hours getting that chore done.

It was then time for the real game to begin, hunting down hidden presents to lovingly place them under the tree. Finally it was off to bed, usually way after midnight, to get a couple hours of much needed sleep. We all remember those special Christmas mornings when our kids woke us, just as the sun began its morning journey, all excited to see what “goodies” Santa had left under the tree.

One of my special memories is when Doug got his first two-wheel bike. Somewhere — in one of our many family albums — is a picture of him dressed in a cowboy outfit, hat and guns, poised ready to handle any bad guys. Beside him is my oldest son Don, Jr. with a dozen or so of his favorite games. Don, Jr. was the so-called “brain” of the family back in those days.

Trimming a Christmas tree was my favorite chore during the holidays, until I hit 80!. Now we have a fake, pre-lit one that is actually quite beautiful. Back when my husband Van was still with us, he did a huge amount of complaining that he had to climb up a hill, over a stream, and cut down the most beautiful, tall pine that his wife had demanded must be the exact tree she had to have.

Much later, when this beautiful pine was decorated, Van bragged that our tree was the most beautiful in the world. The he’d grin. In 1983, the last year of his life, we’d moved from our huge house in Cascade to our log home in Lowman. About 50 hearty souls stayed for the winter. We’d brag about what kind of tree we had, many placing them as we did in the window, for all to see.

Our front porch covered our living room window. The freshly cut tree Van and I had decorated was carefully placed in the middle of our kitchen table so that it could be seen from outside. However this particular Christmas, the one I remember most, was our last one in Lowman. Our neighbors had their grandchildren visiting and Van was to be Santa Claus. I’ll never forget the scene of him dressed as Santa Claus.

Van was riding alongside our road on a snowmobile, pulling a sled with a huge bag of toys. Snowflakes filtered down from the heavens, the snowmobile’s headlights showing the way. Our neighbor’s grandchildren were watching everything, their noses pressed against the windows. It was later, at the end of the day, that I began to realize just what I’d witnessed. Some of you may have watched a similar scene in many Christmas movies?

This old lady was blessed to see it for real, in an honest to goodness setting. I smile now at the memory of the last Christmas Van and I had together. Could anyone ask for more?

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


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