I have seen a lot of Christmases, but there is one that stands out in my memory above all the others. Our family had made plans to go visit my grandmother for Christmas. Since money was a little short, my parents decided that it would be wasteful to purchase a tree since we would not even be at home for Christmas. I wasn't too happy with that plan, but as a sixth-grader, my opinion didn't count for much.
In those days, every classroom at school had a Christmas tree.
This was not an artificial tree, but a real, honest-to-goodness, full-sized tree. We children were
allowed to decorate the tree, mostly with decorations which we made
ourselves, and lots and lots of silver icicles. In our eyes, it was a thing of beauty!
On the last day of school before the holidays my teacher, Mrs. Stewart, stood up in front of the class and asked, "Is there anyone who doesn't have a Christmas tree?" Like a shot, my hand went up! Mrs. Stewart looked around the room, and since mine was the only hand raised, she announced that I could have the class Christmas tree if I wanted it. IF I WANTED IT? OF COURSE I WANTED IT!
That afternoon when school was dismissed, I collected my tree, and since we only lived three blocks from the school, I walked home dragging my tree behind me. I walked along, waving proudly at passing cars and other students who were walking home from school.
My mother met me at the front door. "What in the world is that?" she asked.
"It's our Christmas tree!" I replied, my face beaming with pride. "Mrs. Stewart asked if there was anyone who didn't have a Christmas tree and when I raised my hand, she said I could have it."
"Oh my goodness," mother exclaimed. "What will people think? I'll tell you what they will think. They will think we are so poor that we can't even afford a Christmas tree! I have never been so embarrassed in all my life."
Through the years my family has had many good laughs over that Christmas. I never understood why my mother should have been embarrassed, but there is one thing for sure, we had a Christmas tree every year from that day on -- even if we were going to grandmother's house.