It’s beginning to feel a lot like…

Oysterville, Christmas 2012

On Sunday, December 10, 1911, eleven-year-old Medora Espy wrote, I never was more at my wits end about Christmas.  She was writing from Oysterville to her mother (my grandmother) who was still in Olympia, recovering from complications following the birth of my mother a few weeks previously.  Medora, as the eldest of the seven children, felt very much responsible for the household’s Christmas plans.

All these years later, and with far fewer holiday responsibilities, I can empathize – both with Medora’s sentiment and with my grandmother’s plight at being far from home right when she was very much needed.  Not that I am ‘needed’ anywhere but here at Nyel’s hospital bedside.  But I am getting impatient to get home and get into those Christmas boxes…  It’s time to deck the halls!

Our Christmas Tree, 2008

In other respects, though, we’ve cleared the decks.  No Christmas cards, no Christmas party, only online shopping and, instead of the usual ten-foot tree, we’ll be looking at one half that size.  Charlie called last night and argued long and hard for an artificial, pre-decorated tree.  “I can pick one up here, throw it in the back of the car, and take it up with me!” he offered.  “It will be so much less work for you.”

While we appreciate the sentiment – and even the practicality – of his suggestion, both Nyel and I feel that that’s a line.  A real tree or no Christmas… at least not at the old family house in Oysterville.  In my eighty years of memories about Christmas there, we have always had a real tree – even in years like the one my grandmother anticipated in one of her last letters to Medora in 1915:  Only a few days now before you are home.  We must make the best of things as they are this Christmas and enjoy the spirit of the day, overlooking the lack of material things.

Sydney with Cry-Baby, Christmas 1939

Even in my growing-up years in California when we couldn’t get to Oysterville for Christmas, Papa (my grandfather) always went to the woods and cut a tree for us and shipped it, carefully wrapped in burlap and tied with a rope.  I remember how my mother’s eyes sparkled (were they tears?) each December that the tree arrived.

Fingers crossed that we’ll be outta here tomorrow or the next day!  We have things to do and people to see and Christmas to plan for!  I’m all a-jingle with anticipation.

One Response to “It’s beginning to feel a lot like…”

  1. Marion Freshley says:

    I certainly hope that you two will be on your way home soon. Your love of a real Christmas tree is something that we understand as we always cut one too. Lots of really nice u-cut farms here in the Olympia area. Have ours up and decorated. Our best to you both!

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