Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Wire Christmas Tree

One year, with the farm work and working the night shift in the coal mines, Grandad didn’t have time to go to the woods and cut a Christmas tree for my grandma. But she was a talented  and imaginative person. She handled it with her usual creative aplomb. It was a story that was told most Christmases and also passed on to me by my mom.

Grandma knew that she couldn’t cut and haul a huge pine tree to fit her twelve foot ceiling, so she went to the basement and gathered the tools and supplies that she would need for her idea.  Using a saw, she went outside and cut off a few of the lower branches of the pine trees at the front and side of her house. She drug them onto the porch.
She had carried up a hammer, some long pieces of wire, and two sturdy eye bolts. Using the step  ladder, she screwed one of the eye bolts into the ceiling and one directly below it on the floor. Using the wire she ran several strands of the wire through the eye bolts, making the “trunk” of the tree. Shaping the branches she had already cut, she wired them into place on the “trunk” of the tree. Slowly she shaped and grew the tree. The wires were hidden beneath the thick pine boughs.

It must have been spectacular once the ornaments, lights, and decorations were hung on it. Each one of my aunts and uncles said it was the most beautiful Christmas tree that they had ever had.
Often when we were gathered together, someone would lift the corner of the carpet and show the hole that the eye bolt left in the floor.

Her creativity wasn’t limited to the Christmas tree. She would borrow the “Sears and Roebuck” or the “Montgomery Ward” catalogue from the neighbors. She would sit down with the girls and decide which outfits they liked best. Using only newspaper and scissors, she would create patterns, cut the material, and sew them into clothing. The girls always went to school in the newest fashions and Grandma was able to stay within her budget.

At Christmas one year, she used orange crates to make a table and chairs and a cupboard for the girl’s dolls. She painted them a bright red. They looked beautiful under the Christmas tree and the girls loved them, but this story did not have a happy ending.
One of my uncles was upset that Grandma sent him to the basement to cut some kindling for her wood cook stove. When he came back and dumped it into the wood box, the girls noticed the red paint. The kitchen was filled with loud wailing as each girl found out that their red play set had been destroyed. All of their furniture had been chopped up.

I never heard what punishment my uncle received for that incident, but whatever it was, he deserved everything that he got.

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