Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 13, 2013

Following in mother’s footsteps


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Don’t even ask if I have started shopping — because I haven’t. Every year I tell myself I am going to do better. I will shop a little here and a little there and I will have it done. Maybe one day— I admire those people that get their shopping done throughout the year and don’t have to worry about rushing around when December arrives.

Not me, I take after my mother. We would always be out a week before Christmas and even sometimes Christmas Eve trying to finish up finding gifts for everyone. I think back to when I was a child and how much I could not wait for Christmas. I loved getting a Christmas tree and hanging ornaments my sister and I made at school each year. My mom would hang wreaths and put candles in the windows and each night I would go window to window screwing in the bulbs to light the house for the night. 

We would go to the local tree stands to collect the trimmings off the trees to make holiday swags. My mom also started collecting Christmas houses for me, Santa’s Village to be exact. She bought me one or two new ones each year. I would set them up, along with fake snow, trees and an ice-skating rink for the elves.

Christmas Eve rolled around and we always read “The Night Before Christmas,” wrote our notes to Santa and left out the cookies and milk. Of course we had to go to bed early because Santa wouldn’t come if we didn’t. Who can forget waking up Christmas morning and running down the stairs to see what Santa had brought. The letters to Santa that are sent to the Daily Telegraph to be published in the paper made me think back to all the things I used to ask for.

Kids sure have changed. As the years went by and I grew into a teenager, decorating for Christmas became less “cool.” It seemed like the biggest burden when my mom had us up in the attic pulling out decorations, putting the candles in the windows and setting up my Christmas house village.

This year I have seemed to have a change of heart now that I have my own house. My husband and I made a trip up to Mt. Lookout the day before Thanksgiving to a family friend's Christmas tree farm, Park Place Trees. 

It was snowing and already about six inches of snow was on the ground. I would have taken the first tree I saw, but no ... we trekked through the snow looking for that perfect tree, not too tall, not too skinny, but just right. We found one we agreed on. I was so excited to get it home and in the house. You can’t get much more festive than that — picking out your tree in a crazy snowstorm. So Thanksgiving Day, my husband brought it in the house and we picked out the perfect place in the living room.

Being our first Christmas we don’t have many of our own decorations or ornaments. But on a trip home a few months ago we both collected ornaments and decorations from our parents home. I, of course, collected candles for each window and a few of my infamous Christmas houses and some ornaments.

He also collected homemade ornaments and his train set from when he was younger. We bought some lights for our tree and I decided I would take a afternoon to decorate the house. Putting lights on the tree proved to be a little harder than expected. I remember my mom telling me that she had taken a class when she and my dad got married at the local garden club one year to learn how to properly light the tree. I thought how hard can this be. I just watched a video on Youtube and of course ended up calling her in when I was about half way done to ask for tips.

The lights actually look great — if you don’t look at it close up to much. I began pulling out the ornaments that we had brought back. My aunt and uncle also made it a point to give me an ornament each year at Christmas and she always said, “I know these don’t mean anything to you now, but one day when you have your own tree it will.” And as I went through the ornaments and looked at the dates from what seemed forever ago, I sent her a message telling her that the ornaments had finally paid off. Between both of us our tree is covered in horse and cattle related ornaments, along with a few homemade ones from our elementary school years.

As I set up my Christmas house village, I found myself turning into my mother. In fact, I sometimes find myself doing things or saying things that sound just like my mother. Such as decorating for Christmas, working out in the garden and yard and even not letting people sleep on the couch in fear of the cushions becoming un-even.

I think the holidays make us remember the little things in life that we always take for granted. Now that I am far from home, I believe it is the little things I do that make my mom and I feel closer than ever.

Anne Elgin is a reporter for the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at aelgin@bdtonline.com.