Every year, as the Thanksgiving turkey is reduced to hash, in towns and cities across Alabama they appear.
Fresh cut and for sale, their appearance heralds the coming holiday.
Growing up in an Alabama county that was 90 percent woodland, and most of that evergreen of some sort, buying a Christmas tree just didn’t make sense. Instead, during hunting season, when we went into the woods in search of game, we kept an eye out for trees that would do to decorate. Cedar was the evergreen of choice. They grew along old fencerows and were often flat on one side, which made them perfect to place against the wall at home.
And the closer to home the better – because cutting was always followed by dragging out, which could be a pain if the tree was big and on the back forty.
We also looked for clumps of mistletoe and for holly with berries.
After Thanksgiving the search became serious, almost to the point that shooting something to skin, cook and eat took a back seat to finding a tree to cut, drag and decorate.
And we always found one.
And brought it in.
Shook off the dry needles, and stuck it in a stand of some sort. Then we went to find holly, which we cut and sacked, and mistletoe, which we shot out of its tree.
That done, we’d go up in the attic and bring down the boxes of ancient ornaments.
And that was it.
But not today.
Today the Jackson family has, by my last count, a truckload of decorations and doo-dads. Stars and such that our kids made in Sunday School, and ornaments that my wife’s students gave her back when she taught elementary school.
Over the years the size of our tree has grown to accommodate our ongoing ornament accumulation. But I’m not complaining. Each decoration is filled with memories of years and people past and precious. And as we all get older, there will be more memories to hang and hang on to.
So, the bigger the tree, the better.
And may yours be a giant.
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is retired Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org