Holiday Reflection: By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

Dad untrimming our Christmas Tree the year my sister Candy and I gave him a new ladder as a gift - see the red curling ribbon tied around it.

Dad untrimming our Christmas Tree the year my sister Candy and I gave him a new ladder as a gift – see the red curling ribbon tied around it.

 

As the youngest of seven siblings, I had a big say in the selection of our family Christmas Tree. The ceilings in our home were 9 feet high and, of course, as a child and adolescent I wanted the tallest and broadest tree we could find.

 

It was my dad who did all the work that accompanied the annual tree tradition. He never complained about the size of the tree, nor do I ever recall him saying “no” to the gigantic evergreens that inevitiably were picked out by my sister Candy, my niece Debbie, Mom and me.

 

Before I was born apparently the ritual was for my dad to cut down a tree on property once owned in northeastern Connecticut by Gramma Bennett, his mother. By the time I came along, our trees were purchased on tree lots in the Connecticut countryside.

 

That was until I took it into my head that I wanted the total Christmas Tree experience. I implored Dad to let us go tree hunting and cut one down. His answer was “yes”.  So, all of us loaded into his four-door Chevy ( Dad was a “Buy American” Chevrolet man) and went in search of a tree farm. We came upon one that met with Candy, Debbie and my approval in the Chaplin/Hampton area.

 

Together we hiked out into the snow covered woods, Dad with his saw in hand and on his head a red plaid, wool cap with ear flaps, which he wore every winter. After lengthy assessments of tree after tree, at last we found the evergreen that was meant for our home. It was huge! Possibly the largest one I had ever helped pick out.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree ... thanks to my father we had many beautiful evergreens over the years.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree … thanks to my father we had many beautiful evergreens over the years.

 

Dutifully, Dad laid down on the snowy ground and began sawing and sawing and sawing. “Timber!” It fell. Then it was up to him to lift and carry it to the car. Dad was progressive when it came to things such as his girls’ education, their sharing of opinions and career goals. However, he was a traditionalist when it came to matters such as lifting and carrying Christmas Trees – so we – “his girls”- stood by supportively while he lugged this humongous tree back to the car.

 

 

My father was generally well-prepared and had brought along an ample amount of rope and a white cloth to tie to the tip of the tree, but not even he could have anticipated the size of the tree we chose. Once at the car, it was clear the treetop was going to stick out considerably – so much so that Dad determined the rope to tie the tree in place would not be enough. Rather, Dad decided for safety, in order to keep it secure, he would have to ride home in the trunk with the tree.

 

With the white cloth in place, the tree tied in from the top and bottom trunk latches and the trunk slightly open, somehow Dad managed to climb in. He hunched himself down and proceeded with this one-time adventure. Mom was put behind the wheel of the car. And then the laughter began – all the way home – we laughed and laughed!

 

There is another part to the tale. It turned out that the man who owned the tree farm had used his pick-up truck to pull my parents and older siblings across a railroad track where Dad’s & Mom’s car had gotten stuck during a flood many years before – a piece of family history that predated Candy and me. When Dad realized who owned the farm he thanked him again for his help all those years back, and from then on we bought our Christmas trees there.

 

Each holiday season as I drive past an evergreen lot, or decorate the tree, my thoughts can’t help but drift back to that memorable year when Dad rode home in the trunk with our Christmas Tree – all of us laughing all the way.

 

The year after my father passed, some of his grandsons (my nephews), including Glen, Jr. and Lance came along to that same tree farm to help cut and carry a tree to our home and continue Dad’s tradition – a tradition of a father’s dedication to the family he loved.

 

From my heart to yours – Merry Christmas!