Real Christmas Trees: A Family Tradition

Assistant Editor Kellsey Trimble tells how to decorate a Christmas tree the right way, or at least the way she and her brother did it, while arguing about where to place the ornaments.


| Winter 2015


Christmas has been one of my favorite holidays since I can remember. As a family, we would head to the pasture and cut a cedar for our Christmas tree. We’d haul back the fragrant mass of prickly branches, and my brother and I would immediately begin to decorate it together, all the while arguing about which ornaments we thought should be placed in front. And not a year went by that our cats didn’t pull the tree over at least once, which I thought was quite funny.

Our mother amassed a unique and eclectic collection of ornaments, and we would ask about each one and where it came from before hanging it on the tree. We also had several nut crackers and a wooden smoker shaped like Santa.

Every Christmas Eve, my mother’s side of the family would gather at the old farmhouse where she grew up, and my grandparents would cook a variety of dishes, either traditional or something they had learned to cook on their travels throughout the world. While the adults lingered downstairs, talking about “grown-up stuff,” my brother and I would find games and toys in the playroom upstairs, or look at old books and trinkets from other worlds we hoped to see one day, until we were eventually called to dinner. Everyone sat around the large dining table, which we managed to fit all 12 of us at, which pleased my brother and me, since it meant we weren’t stuck at a kids’ table.

After dinner, we gathered around the tree to open gifts. Sometimes the adults would get to talking and carry on late into the night, and my brother and I would fall asleep on the floor. Sometimes we stayed the night, but most often we trekked back home.



Christmas morning, my brother and I would hop out of our beds and wake our parents at what I’m sure was some ridiculous hour of the morning. Within moments, wrapping paper would be flying about the room as my parents drank coffee and watched us open our gifts. At some point between midmorning and early afternoon, my father’s side of the family would arrive, and another round of celebrating would commence. We counted on my grandmother to bring bread of some kind for brunch – usually homemade pecan-cinnamon rolls or sticky buns, which were always fresh out of the oven, and always delicious.

Our Christmas Day celebration featured more of the traditional dishes: glazed ham, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. My grandmother made a delicious cranberry-walnut salad, and I’d always have second, and sometimes third, helpings.






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