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Christmas Memories: Pungent scent of cedar remembered

Oklahoman Published: December 23, 2008
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 surprise
Ruby 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.


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