Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Christmas tree customers also wanted wild berries

However, the next year, Mom and Dad advised me to buy an advertisement, to sell larger trees, to pay them a little for delivery and to cut a few extras on weekends. This put larger trees in homes, pleasing the customers.

Mom and I loved the woods in summers. When enough water was making a little waterfall and a puddle, weíd take soap and towels for bathing and shampooing in the creek.

When winter came, people called and bought cedar trees, then in early spring some of the customers wanted wild gooseberries. This meant "put sulfur in your shoes to repel chiggers." Each wild gooseberry had a stem and "a tiny black dried bloom, shaped like a tail." Removing stem and tail required almost as much time as for the picking.

The grocer ordered a gallon of gooseberries, and Dad priced them at a dollar; the grocer thought a dollar bought a gallon of gooseberries "picked and stemmed."

Not so! I never picked another gallon of those tiny little gooseberries.

Early in July one year, blackberries ripened and were so big and juicy-sweet that they seemed to just roll off of the bush into my hand. Mom and I picked and made jam - 98 quarts of blackberry jam that one summer. Dad bought a huge bag of sugar, and we made blackberry jam - enough for our dessert and lunches during the winter and then some.

By then, my brother and I were both in the University High School, and I was attending the Presbyterian Student Sunday evening snack suppers with the MU engineering student who drove the old Pontiac truck. This was during the Depression, but we dairy families weathered that storm with things like blackberry jam and patching up old trucks.

My brother and I went from first grade through high school graduation in the Missouri University grade and high school thanks to parents, who valued the special opportunities MU offered at all levels. We also have MU bachelorís and masterís degrees in our special interests.

The cedar tree market was solid until advertising convinced customers that trees from far north were more beautiful and had fewer stickers and were better because they cost more. In other words, the style swung to a different kind of Christmas tree.

It cost more money, partly because they were cut weeks ahead, and packing flattened them till they look like cooked fish. Buyers were convinced that they were better because they were shipped a long way; stylishly better because your tree cost more than friends paid.

The new fad tree was a hit because it didnít lose little stuff on the new carpet, certainly not because it smelled like Christmas - it didnít. It was what everybody was having because it did not make the house smell like cedar.

Soon, the non-cedar, non-fragrant artificial tree displaced songs and poems and artwork that some of us can never give up. Now we take the trees apart for storage.

A bachelor I knew just chose a small tree and carried it to his basement, fully decorated and covered it with a sheet between years, for nephews and nieces who came to visit in December.

Let others drink good wishes, and send the kids off to a sitter.

Iíll choose an old-fashioned Christmas with cedar from the woods, smelling up the entire house and the children sharing the fun.

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