Ode to Santa’s Christmas Tree

In 1999 I wrote this story as a Christmas gift to my late Father-in-law.  On Christmas night, two years ago, I lost this beloved man to a battle with cancer.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of his death and the day that we in America, recognize the day of Christ’s birth.  It is my hope that each and every one of you will reflect upon the Promise of all that He has brought us.  We are all blest beyond measure, we may not feel that we are, but each of us will come to realize a moment in our life when that ultimate truth reveals itself.  Have a very wonderful Christmas Eve, and a beautiful Christmas Day.  Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward All.

It began the Friday

after Thanksgiving and would continue throughout much of my young life.  Little would I know that it would become a gift, one to be treasured and reflected upon as my youth would generate into my older years.  To this very day this treasure sits patiently, tied with memories far more grand than words can merely tell.  Today I would like to share my gift in hopes that I can hand you a part of me that I deem so special.  Special, because of who gave it to me, and special because you remind me so dearly of the goodness of this man.

My Grandfather was

a simple man.  He collected pennies in a coffee can above his desk.  He worked a gentleman’s hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.  An auto mechanic, skilled in his trade simply by a love for cars and all that entailed this “wondrous” invention.  I never saw him study his trade, I merely saw him tinkering with hands and fingernails embedded with diesel, or car engine oils.  I’d many times witness a grown man’s sense of “wonder” as he pondered over some piece of an engines inner workings.

Yet this gentleman

captured more from his modest life than simply a love of car engines.  He held the respect of many of his peers, yet it would be years later before I would truly understand the depth and the reasons he was so valued.  Earlier this Holiday Season (which always begins for our family with the beginning of Thanksgiving), I found myself soul-searching as I reminisced over those who are no longer here on Earth to share these moments with me, and likewise have not (in my mind), yet been introduced to my beloved family.  Those of you that are a part of who I am on this place called, Earth.  Anyway, onward to my, “Ode,” may I capture a spirit and relate it to you in honor of my, “Santa”.

“Yes, it’s Thursday,

and Grandma has once again managed to cook the goose and prepare the plum pudding.  There’s bread dressing and mashed potatoes, gravy and freshly made cranberry sauce.  Pumpkin pie, mincemeat too (the real thing, made with venison stewed with raisins and brandy), relish trays and glasses of wine at each setting.  Including the children.  It was a tradition, and whether my folks preferred it or not, one will never know.  My Grandmother was not heavy into spirits, but the holidays meant a time to revive some of her time-tested traditions.  Her Mother and Father were native to France; the northern region.  Wine was a sacrament to the dinner tale at such festive times.  Today would be no different.”


It was time for

Grandpa to eat heartily, not because food was ever lacking from the table.  It was a time to stock himself with the nourishment that would sustain him over the next few days.  They would be busy days, hard days, long days and could possibly be quite cold and perhaps a bit concerning.  For every year, the Friday after Thanksgiving met that he and several of his cronies would venture up into the Colorado mountains for their annual trek.  Their mission?  Christmas trees!  They would spend the Friday through Sunday, not only cutting trees, but hauling them from the mountains and loading them onto trucks for a trip homeward.

Once home, the trees

would be “sized’ and placed into height arrangements out behind Grandpa’s garage.  After they were sorted, they were moved inside of the garage and placed according to height.  Then the pricing began.  (the most special of trees, those with height and favored beauty, considered to be the finest, were placed to the side.  (One tree belonged to my Grandmother, the others were gifts to local churches.)

Appropriately, the wood

burning stove in Grandpa’s garage would become less stocked over the next few weeks.  Heat would bring the sap to the forefront of the pine, moisture content would be compensated.  If the trees were to hold well for buyers, then it was the duty to keep them at their freshest.  Daily, folks came to buy their trees.  Some would travel the fifty or so miles south out of Wyoming.  Others would travel from Boulder and Denver.  Was it the beauty they came to expect, or perhaps the visit to see my Grandfather?  In my youth I simply thought there was no other Christmas tree salesman.  If there was, did I notice him? or them?  No, I never did.

Sales would be brisk

throughout the weeks before Christmas.  I have no idea how the monies were split, but common sense would tell me that it was divided equally amongst those faithful cronies that made those yearly treks into the snow-covered wilds of Northern Colorado .  Yet there is still the ambiance of something that occurred every Christmas Eve.  This is where my Santa, arrives before Midnight and delivers something far more grand than brightly wrapped gifts bearing expensive trinkets of joy.

Every Christmas Eve

at 8 p.m., an unusual “hustle and bustle” of traffic filled the garage.  Northern Colorado had, and perhaps still does, a large number of migrant farm workers.  In a region known for feed corn and wheat, their work hands are in great demand.  Their monetary means were/are meager.  Their Spirit of Christmas though, is as grand as yours and mine.  These folks knew simply by word of mouth (I know it had to be this, no advertisements announced this event, and none of our family knew their native tongue), that Christmas trees were available to them.  These trees had no pricing, no expectations, no reciprocal requirement attached to them.  They were a gift, a treat, a “Thank you,” if you will.  I wonder if they knew my Grandfather was, Santa?  Would it take them the many years it took me to realize it?  I don’t think it really matters.  I believe Santa knew just exactly what he was doing.

Dad, I made this Christmas tree for you in honor of my Grandfather.  I believe you deserve this.  I didn’t head up a mountain, trampling through snow to find it.  I learned from a 13-year-old Girl Scout* how to make it, but I learned from my Grandfather the value of what it symbolizes.  He’s not here for me to thank, but you are, and there is treasure you behold for me that is simply as grand.  I know and trust your word.  I understand that a handshake coming from you is worth more than a written contract, and more importantly, I value the expectations you hold for your children.  

*A tree crafted of ribbon pieces tied to a dowel.

Margie (Warden) L.



~ by coffeegrounded on December 24, 2017.

9 Responses to “Ode to Santa’s Christmas Tree”

  1. Hi friend
    I’ve missed you, we haven’t talked in ages. The Postpartum Series was very popular post and still gets pulled archives today. I’ve bought of reposting in Spanish.
    I know you’ve needed time to decompress. I pray you’re taking a step forward today. I saw you followed me, made me very happy.


    • Thank you for writing. I apologize for being absent. This past year was filled with health challenges. I fell last January, broke three ribs, suffered a concussion and a subsequent stroke. My active lifestyle took a nosedive, but I’m determined to regain my strength.

      During the healing process, I began following a group of young photojournalists from Turkey and Armenia. It has been one of my life’s greatest joys! Three National Geographic photojournalists brought the groups together, hoping to bridge the divides thru connecting youth. Turkey is an Islamic country, Armenia is Christian. The series is called, Bridging Stories. Please look their work up on Instagram. These young people are talented and dedicated.

      Congratulations! I’m so thankful you had such great success with The Postpartum Series. Writing it in Spanish would be a God-send. Theis heinous condition knows no social or economic borders.

      Again, thank you for writing, Melinda. I pray you are well and enjoying life.


      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy to hear your getting stronger everyday. That’s the shit’s, falls can leave us in bed for months. I’ve had plenty myself, two very bad but didn’t go to hospital. When you’re up and get the bug I look forward to your post. I’ll let you know how the Spanish version goes. I can think of many countries who could use the information. Hugs :)


    • I just returned from Nebraska this afternoon. My niece passed away and her mother attempted suicide twice. I spent four days in the hospital with kidney stones and wound up with a stent. My head is in a whirlwind. None of this seems real. We must talk soon. 🙏❤️🙏

      Liked by 1 person

    • You can’t get a break. My thought are with you and family. :)


  2. I miss talking with you, I pray you’re healthy and happy. If not happy at least moving forward. I know you had a huge weight on your shoulders. My hope is life is easier now and life is good.
    Happy New Year


  3. Like

  4. Margie, I’ve missed you. How wonderful that you’re back with this beautiful story. Thank you and Happy Holidays to you and your family.


  5. Happy to see you back again. Hoping you’re having a good time with family. :-)


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