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Mike Watson: Memories of Christmases Past

The Watsons have two trees, he writes: "Today, Renea and I usually put up two Christmas trees. One in the living room, tall and green, decorated just so. . . That one is for "people" to see. Now, back in the den, where we lounge, read, watch television and the like, there is another tree most years. A throwback from elementary school at Sparksville Grade Center and second grade with Miss Marie Collins--a silver tree, circa 1964 or so, space age in design, the Sputnik. Most people cringe if they even think about one. I remember coming home from school that first time, when Miss Marie let us decorate it, and told my parents what a wonderful thing it was. No one else was impressed, I suppose." - MIKE WATSON
AT LEFT, at Jill Petrey's Request, the author sent a photo of the Silver Christmas tree he and Renae still put up each year, recalling a favorite childhood memory at Sparksville Grade Center.

By Mike Watson

Christmas memories are very important and most folk have one or two that come vividly to mind. I remember several specific Christmases, but they were all good for me. I remember going to the woods with dad or my brothers and cutting a tree, once or twice with snow covering the fields and woods. This was tradition, until the fad for artificial trees came along. Then, and since, with one year as exception, we have always had a green "fake" tree. No mess, no muss. After we moved to town and settled in on High Street, we had the "Christmas closet" that housed nothing but Yuletide trimmings.


As a child on Earls' Ridge, I remember certain presents, some I still have. When I was four or five Santa brought me a barnyard, complete with tin barn, plastic animals of every type, and plastic fencing; I don't have it now, but wish I did. Another year, in the latter half of the '60s Santa delivered the big yellow plastic semi-truck and trailer with winch and cover, battery operated. It's still parked, at the ready for service, in our basement. I remember finding the truck's box on a upstairs bed, but did not make the connection; that came a little later. The Handy Andy Tool Box and all the tools that a good carpenter could need came one year; I did a great deal of work with that one. And many other items over the years, but most did not make the impression of these.

And particularly the B-B rifle I received about 1970 or so. It wasn't a "Red Rider with compass stock," but it was a fine Daisy with lever action. It was a surprise! I still have this one, and the box it came in, and take it out once in a great while to reflect on days of yore...and practice a little, too.

Today, Renea and I usually put up two Christmas trees. One in the living room, tall and green, decorated just so. Renea often takes two or three tries to get it just like she wants, often over several days; then later will reorder the ornaments on it again, maybe twice. That one is for "people" to see. Now, back in the den, where we lounge, read, watch television and the like, there is another tree most years. A throwback from elementary school at Sparksville Grade Center and second grade with Miss Marie Collins--a silver tree, circa 1964 or so, space age in design, the Sputnik. Most people cringe if they even think about one. I remember coming home from school that first time, when Miss Marie let us decorate it, and told my parents what a wonderful thing it was. No one else was impressed, I suppose.

Fast forward to about 2005. I had told this silver-tree story to my wife many times. I never thought of owning one, though I would occasionally come across parts of one at an antique store or junk shop. Then, a Christmas-time package was delivered to my porch by UPS one mid-December. What a shock, my "Sputnik" tree; a present from my long-suffering spouse. Up it went that day; everyone was horrified. Not me, I loved it and still put it up some years, decorated with vintage ornaments from the '50s and '60s. It goes up for about 24 hours, mostly because the cat likes it more than I do, it seems.

Oh, well, it is a fun time of year for us "old" kids, too!

Merry Christmas, Mike & Renea Watson

God Bless America!



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