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The Scent of Fir

Enjoy the 21st century holidays. Do you live in the mountains or woods? Whether you are skiing, ice skating, or cozying up in your warm home, you have the advantage of heating, electricity, and a variety of foods from every part of the world, only available in 1910 to the richest mercantile families.

Still, in that day, someone in the home was delegated to search and chop down a tree if the family celebrated the Christian Christmas holiday. How did a poor family get a tree to decorate? This is what happened in “The House on Harrigan’s Hill”….

“Traipsing up the hill and along the ridge, Mary lugged the ax used to chop wood. The flat gray Sierra sky assured her Truckee was between storms that had raged all month. Raleigh and Tiny rushed ahead, their breath turning into little clouds of vapor. The snow had hardened, so high top shoes didn’t fill with icy globs as they stomped along. Reaching the ridge top, they were hot, with red cheeks, and sweat at their hairline.

Raleigh and Tiny unbuttoned their coats and flapped the front while they scouted for a short, sturdy Douglas fir, needles sticking out neatly on branches, just enough space between each for ornaments. The tree was hidden between a row of tall firs from which snow slipped off the branches, separating into flakes as it fell and sparkling from the slit of sun shining through the overcast.

Alta laughed, snow on her hair, while she held the trunk and supervised the chopping. With Raleigh and Tiny gripping the trunk in front, and Mary and Alta holding on in the back, they hauled the fir back to the house without knocking every needle off before it reached the front room. The fir was propped up, the six remaining glass ornaments Mama had brought from her home in Missouri perfectly displayed. Tiny draped strings of popcorn and Alta found the candle clips, so they counted their coins and bought twelve candles. Slipped into the holders on the candle clips, ready to light on Christmas Eve, they smiled in admiration at their attempt to decorate.”

Nowadays, whether you find yourself up high in the Sierra or down by the seashore, a family can use the internet to locate a tree farm and cut their favorite. Not to mention the digital equipment you have available to enjoy music while electric lights are draped on the branches.

-original post December 19, 2013

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