Hazel Bell Nicholas, 92, Marietta: As the Christmas holidays approach, there are whispers upon the air that become more audible, smells and feelings return, to thrill the waiting heart of this 92-year-old great-great grandma. They are reminders of when Papa cut our Christmas tree. Have you ever had just a smell, a sound or a feeling that uncovered a childhood memory, a happening about 82 years ago? Then you would know what this season does to, and for, me. Today, as we travel down any highway, we see an abundance of cedars. Not so in my youthful days. Just today, something occurred to me; Papa must have "scouted” out the little cedar before "finding” it for his one-and-only daughter. Back then, I knew Papa could perform miracles, and that feeling never disappeared, even after his death at age 71. That December day was damp and cloudy, so when Papa said, "It smells like snow,” I knew it would snow soon. I heard him call for ole dog and me, "Come sister, let’s go find a Christmas tree!” So, a yelping dog, excited girl and loving dad went off into a wooded area to find something special. I looked for any green tree, but none could be seen. Suddenly Papa’s voice came upon the cold air. "Come see what I’ve found!” Ole dog beat me to where a small cedar trembled upon the ground and the fragrance filled the December day. The dog and I jumped for joy, anticipating what was soon to come. Papa shouldered the tree and ax on each side, and away we went home. Mission accomplished! Soon, the small tree was standing in a corner of the cold room where my brothers and I slept. Then began the fun of stringing white fluffy popcorn and making chains from paper and putting them together with flour paste that Mama made. On Christmas morning, there was a pair of brown mittens that Great-Grandma had knitted and a small "china” doll from Santa. Little cars for the boys and, as though by magic, fruit, a coconut, hard candy and some funny books were beneath the tree. The candy, fruit, coconut and small toys were loving symbols of an era that nevermore will be. Only the memories that have outlived all but two family members remain. Old doesn’t mean a loss of youthful memories; it just means I can’t climb trees as I once did. But memories take me to places where I smell crushed cedar, hear ole dog barking and Papa call, "Sister, let’s go find a Christmas tree.”
Newlywed discovers turkey dinner surpriseRuby Griffith, Yukon: It was my worst Christmas ever. As a newlywed in Mason, my teacher-husband wanted to show me off to his superintendent, so he invited him with his wife for dinner. He even planned what he wanted cooked: a turkey, with banana pudding (his favorite) for dessert. All went well, I thought, until I started carving the turkey, and the knife struck some object in the cavity. This being my first turkey, I did not know the bag of giblets was stored inside the turkey. Ugh! And if this wasn’t bad enough, as our guests were leaving, I noticed there on the kitchen counter was an untouched banana pudding. Oops! So we went back to the table for dessert. This happened when I was 18, and now I am 86, so I have no picture. But I never go through a Christmas dinner that I do not remember this incident.
All dolled up for shopping and a visit with SantaSuzi (Balliett) Heed, Oklahoma City: The newspaper photo is of myself (Suzan) and my little sister, Shaun, shopping for my older brother Steve’s birthday present. He was 8 on Dec. 10, 1959, the day this photo was printed. You always dressed up to shop downtown, so we had on our best attire to get to see Santa as a surprise from my Mom. She’s still with us, but my brother is gone. This photo now carries a special memory. Birthday cake becomes a Christmas tradition
Charlene Sproul, Yukon (photo No. 2 on cover):The tradition I would like to tell you about is one we started 18 years ago when our granddaughter, Kaylee Wilford, was 7 months old. We wanted her to know the real meaning of Christmas, which is the birth of Christ. I made a "Happy Birthday Jesus” cake and have continued every year. We now also have three grandsons: Kolton Wilford, 14, Drew Sproul, 8, and Erik Sproul, 6. We take a picture every year of the grandchildren with the cake. We started another tradition when our son, Scott, and daughter, Kerri, were small and have continued each year with the four grandchildren. It is to buy a Hallmark Christmas ornament with the date on it. When they get grown and move away, they have their ornaments to put on their first Christmas tree.
Gift-giving plan meant to eliminate confusionGloria Taylor, Edmond: Each Christmas, our family draws names for the next Christmas, and someone is always misplacing or forgetting the name, and it’s next to impossible to figure them out. In 1974, it was my misfortune to forget, so I wrote my sister-in-law, Mrs. Clyde Rodolph Jr. in Norman, whom I thought was a reliable source. I received this handwritten answer: "Dear Gloria, Before I get involved in something else, I thought I’d better let you know what I know about Christmas names. For some ‘unknown’ reason, I have three names, and both our kids have theirs, so they must be Mary and Bob’s, and I never sent them to them. I can’t figure anything else, so this would mean Clyde and I have Mary and Bob’s name, and Mary and Bob have Dave and Edie and Jeromy. Guy and Margaret have our names, and Steve’s for Jeromy. Why don’t we let Steve and Kathy have our names and take Steve’s name (which we figure must be Jennifer’s for Jeromy). Hope you followed that. Edie and Dave have Mother and Dad’s, and they already have something for them, and Joe for Jennifer. Now, if you know who Mother and Dad have, maybe you can figure out whose name you have. I will not send Dave and Edie and Jeromy’s name to Mary until I hear from you, in case you’d like to juggle them around some more.” Believe it or not, that’s the exact letter. I still have the original. Do they make computers for this sort of thing?