Christmas Tree Lot Gives Back To The Community With Every Evergreen Bought

A family Christmas tradition began when we had a package delivered to our front door with no name or identification. When I opened it, I saw it was BluBlocker sunglasses. Not knowing why we received this, I wrapped it up for my husband, Dave, for Christmas, thinking he could use an extra pair. Upon opening the present, he said, "I ordered these months ago and have been waiting for them to arrive and was about to call the company." We called this a Mommy Gift.

The following year, my son's college yearbook, which he already paid for, was delivered to our front door. You guessed it! That was his Mommy Gift that Christmas.

Another year, my granddaughter's Mommy Gift was a huge stack of small pieces of scrap paper. She likes to play a family game that requires a lot of scrap paper, and it's so time consuming to prepare the paper for this game. 

If anyone leaves anything behind when they visit, like socks, etc., it might show up in their stocking that year.

Usually, one or two people get a Mommy Gift at Christmas and I love seeing their reaction.

Christmas Thank-yous

by Judy Harris, Midland

My Christmas tree is decorated with thank-you cards. Each one represents someone in our Midland community who has helped me during the year during the pandemic. 

They are Higher Standards Automotive, Brubaker's Plumbing, LaLonde's Market, Fulkerson Lawn Care, Kristee Keyes, Emmerson, Earl Denomme, my neighbors, Jeanne Schaller, Eugene Adamcik, Joe Sepsey who delivers quilts for Midland Quiltmakers, and my son Steven. Each one is a bright gold ball, shining on my tree.

Thank you. Midland is a wonderful community to live in. In all, it makes a Merry Christmas.

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

by Doris French, Midland

We purchased our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree several years ago. It had the one red ornament and blue tree skirt. After Christmas, we put it away.

The next year, we added a few more ornaments. We thought it looked better with those ornaments. After Christmas, we put it away again.

The following year, we put some white lights on the tree to accompany those few ornaments. After Christmas, we put it away again.

Then we decided to add another string of lights, this time colored ones. Then we added some garland to that little tree. By then, it looked magnificent. 

Instead of putting it away that year, we decided to change the ornaments for the various holidays throughout the year. We had red for Valentine's Day, green for St. Patrick's Day, red and blue with white lights for Memorial Day and Fourth of July. Halloween's tree was decorated with black cats and pumpkins. The Thanksgiving tree had pumpkins and leaves.

Now, for this Christmas I have a better idea. I think we will go back to the one red ornament and blue tree skirt. It will remind us that everyone should be thankful for what they have. It doesn't take "stuff" to make Christmas. It just takes love and peace to make any Christmas special.

Memories Keep On Giving

by Marilyn Tilmann

I am thinking of things you gave to me, that bring joy, smiles and good feelings every time I recall them. I’m reminding you of times that I think and hope will bring blessings to you, too. There were times we enjoyed together the joyful, rewarding and difficult events. There were times that we shared laughter, sadness, pride and expectations together.  

I’m thinking of the times we rushed to finish a research paper, or rushed to get kids to a basketball game in time. Yes, and we worked hours to finish those Christmas cookies, fruitcakes and even wedding cakes. We laughed as we wondered if our efforts would yield beautiful, tasty results. Were you the one who gave such kind criticism to my painting, writing or craft efforts? So many times we shared problems at work. Solving them was a team effort. How satisfying to remember how we overcame those challenges.  

I’m thinking of the times we were so short of money that we bought only necessities and used dozens of coupons. The austerity diet meant we cooked everything from scratch .and ate a lot of potatoes and eggs.

Rushing to transport a child to play a winning basketball game and viewing so many sport games took time and persistence. The busy life was also a rewarding one. Our losses we shared, and the comfort came from being together. So proud we were to see children graduate from high school, college and even more. Our children have achieved such great tasks.    

As you read this message, I trust you will again be thankful and joyful as you think and laugh again at all our adventures.  

Gift Wrapping

By Judy Cjoccaro, Midland

This time of year, most people are busy shopping. They’re reading wish lists and choosing carefully. A doll for Sally, a train for Billy. You all know how it goes. But then, as it gets closer and closer to Christmas, you get hit with the reality that all those wonderful choices you made for the family have to be wrapped! That was about where I came in. Year after year, I would get to this point and realize all the “perfect” wrapping paper I purchased with each person in mind had to be applied to the purchases.

Where did December go? Golly, just a few days ago I had a whole month before Christmas and now it’s the 22nd of December!!

Year after year, I would let this happen, and as I got older and didn’t appreciate staying up all night wrapping the night before Christmas and then still enjoying Christmas Day in a wakeful condition, I started employing the more grown or adult grandchildren to help me.

On Christmas Eve, you could usually find me with one of the grandchildren, tucked away in a room frantically wrapping. Sometimes I would even get up very early in the morning with the excuse that I needed to put the turkey in and, of course, I’d finish the wrapping. Some of the packages were still “smoking” from the fast movement of paper flying around and bows being applied!!

Of course, I know there is a much better way to handle the whole process of wrapping. It’s a lot less stressful and makes for a more relaxed Christmas Day. That is to purchase the gifts, bring them home and wrap them right away, tag them, and put them away to await the big day. This would be the organized way to do things. Not me, no, I had to ride the edge of disaster.

However, if I hadn’t been so disorganized, I would never have had some wonderful hours spent with grandchildren chatting, anticipating and bonding. Isn’t that what family, Christmas and sharing is all about? 

Why Red and Green for Christmas?

by Susan Steffen, Midland

Why are red and green together considered Christmas colors? I’ve accepted it as so all my life and never really questioned it until someone asked me recently. I’ve been pondering it ever since.

My thoughts suggested that green was easy. It must come from the evergreen trees which are so beautiful against the white snow of winter. They are one of the few things in nature that have any color at all in the winter. Everything else is white or shades of gray, so it stands to reason that green would be for the evergreen.

But why red? I thought of Santa’s red suit, but felt that that was probably made red by the artists because of red and green being Christmas colors and not the other way around. What else is red? Blood, but why would that be associated with Christmas? Christmas is the birthday of Jesus, who came to die for our sins and who willingly shed his blood for us to be our ultimate sacrifice, but would that make it the chosen color to represent Christmas? Was anyone besides God thinking of His death when he was born? It seemed like a long shot, but I was stumped to come up with anything else.

Enter Google. You can find anything by Googling it. Several sources said that the origin of red and green for Christmas dates back to the 1300s, when churches used Miracle Plays to teach the illiterate people the stories of Jesus. December 24th was Adam and Eve day, and plays were presented to tell their story.

In an effort to show the tree of life, in Germany, they chose a pine tree because it was the only thing that looked alive on December 24th. They tied red apples onto the tree to represent the forbidden fruit. These were called Paradise Trees and they became the accepted prop for the plays. The idea spread. They became so popular that people began bringing pine trees into their houses and decorating them with apples for the holiday.

Some time later, they added little white wafers to the tree as well to represent the Holy Eucharist. This was to remind the people that while Adam and Eve were responsible for the fall of mankind, the birth of the Christ child would, in effect, reverse the final results of the fall through the eventual suffering and death of Jesus.

Some of the sites listed the accepted meanings of red and green and I found them to be very interesting. One site even listed misconceptions of the colors, such as red coming from Santa Claus’s suit and Rudolph’s red nose. It said that these colors were chosen for Santa’s suit and Rudolph’s nose because red was already an accepted color for Christmas, just as I suspected. The meanings were:

Red is the color that is considered the greatest excitement, and is also the color of the month of December. As the religious symbol, it stands for fire, blood and charity.

Green is the symbol for nature, youth and the hope of eternal life. It is for this reason that Christmas is a feast of hope, with a newborn child as its central symbol. 

Green represents God's eternal love for mankind. Evergreen trees and wreaths are familiar green symbols used during the holiday season. (John 3:16-17)

Red represents the blood shed by Jesus so that mankind's sins would be forgiven. Red apples, berries and ribbons are popular holiday decorations. (John 19:34) 

I can’t help but smile at how hard some people work to take the religious aspect out of Christmas, all the while it is so deeply ingrained in the holiday that even the colors we choose most often to represent Christmas are based in that very Christian part of

the holiday. It also pleases me that I wasn’t too far off base with my original idea.

My Gift to Give

by Nancy Renko, Gladwin

Jay and I tried to sneak to new seats, but the bus driver scolded us and told us to sit where we belonged. As a second-grader, I didn’t argue, just obeyed. I hated sitting in front of two fifth-grade bullies who teased me till tears came.

“Hey Wobin, are you going to cry because you can’t say your own name, Robin? You’re supposed to say an 'r,' not a 'w.' Weepy Wobin, that’s you," Kyle taunted.

When we got off the bus, we ran all the way to music class. We knew we would be safe with our teacher, Mrs. Lee.

“Class, today we will learn a carol to sing at the Christmas program. Listen, so you can tell the class what it’s about."

“I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum, pum, pum… I played my drum for him, pa rum, pum, pum, pum."

Jay raised his hand, "It’s about a poor boy who doesn’t have a gift for the baby Jesus, so he plays his drum for him."

“That’s right, Jay. Now I want you to think about your own gift. Each of you possesses your own unique talent, something you can give to others. When you find your special ability, it is your responsibility to share it.‘”

All that day and during the week, I thought about my gift, but I couldn’t imagine what it could be. I had no talent. I couldn’t even speak correctly. My teacher made me go to speech class. I had only one friend, Jay, and we spent most of our time trying to avoid the meanies, Brad and Kyle.

Then, on the last day before vacation, I accidentally discovered my gift.

In art class, our teacher gave us a piece of felt. We traced and cut out a star, then decorated it with glitter.

“Look, Robin, do you like my blue and gold star? I’m going to give it to my mom for Christmas,” Jay exclaimed as he waved it high in the air for me to see. "Mom can hang it on the tree.”

“It’s so pretty; she will love it."

Miss Ruby rushed us through clean-up and out the door, saying, "Merry Christmas! Hurry, don’t be late for the bus."

We carried our art projects so they wouldn’t get crushed and headed toward the parking lot. Brad and Kyle waited for us outside. We tried to maneuver around them, but Brad reached over Jay’s head and snatched his star.

“You can’t have that. It’s for my mom," Jay cried out.

“What’s the matter, Carrot Top, you want your star back?" sneered Brad as he held it out of reach. "This looks like it belongs in the garbage," he teased, and motioned toward the trash can.

“Stop it, you two, that’s not yours," I yelled. "You should be ashamed of yourselves. You are just mean bullies. Go pick on someone your own size and leave us alone. Now scram.’”

“Aw, you’re no fun," Kyle pouted. I couldn’t believe it. Brad dropped the star like it had burned his hand, and they both just walked away.

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Jay grabbed his star, clutching it to his chest, and looked at me in amazement. As for me, I learned a valuable lesson that day.

You see, class, standing up to those bullies taught me to advocate for myself and others. It changed my life and showed me I could be strong. It’s why I am a police officer, a fantastic job which makes my family proud. Look, this is my badge with the silver star. It is my duty and honor to live the words inscribed on this badge, "To Serve and Protect." I have found my gift and I’m grateful for it.

I would like to thank your teacher for inviting me to your class today, and to thank you students for listening to my story. It is my hope that each of you will discover your gift and use it to help others.

A Christmas memory

by Meredith Chalk, Midland

It was Christmas Eve and I was hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree, when my dad told me that if I got my pajamas on, we could watch The Grinch, which was on TV.

I rushed upstairs and put on my Christmas pajamas.

I scrambled downstairs and, as I expected, The Grinch was on TV. We made popcorn and watched the movie. Plus, I fell asleep a little too early.

But early next morning, I found myself waking up at 5:30 in the morning!

I told myself I would open just one of the presents while I waited. But boy, did I not do that, I opened up almost every present that was for me until my parents found out!

Well, boy, was that a Christmas!

Sleigh Train

by Vicki Ramseyer

Horses were a very important part of agriculture and the world’s transportation system in my parents' generation. “Baby boomers” learned to have fun that old-fashioned way but moved totally beyond imaginable things. We moved the world not only past cars and airplanes, but to space travel and walking on the moon.

I’m positive that there was a lot of fun to be had in the old stuff, too. We knew our neighbors and they were safe enough to trust our children with on any given day. We had a lot of friends in the neighborhood. There were eight children in our family. All the rest of the children we played with were from smaller families, but there were still 8-12 other children that went to the same school and church in our neighborhood.

Our parents checked the thermostats before we were allowed this great afternoon of fun. The adults kept in touch by land line telephones. But our neighbors that lived only about three miles from us were considered a long-distance call and that cost money.

One of those families had an old-fashioned one-horse sleigh that belonged to their grandfather. When cars became more prevalent, most people got rid of their old stuff, but thankfully their grandfather didn't. The sleigh needed very few upgrades to make it viable to pull behind a tractor.

Children of all ages played together very often. We never felt left out even though we were much younger than our older siblings. They watched out for us and took responsibility for our safety.

In winter time, the roads would be very slippery due to the warm tires running over the gravel and melting some of the snow. Snow plows didn’t put salt down to melt the ice; drivers learned to drive carefully in a car. 

We had Christmas vacations very similar to the ones that children have today, but we didn’t spend them in the house. We were outside playing in the snow, building snowmen, or having snowball fights. But all that stopped when they came calling with the sleigh. We could play on those back roads for hours.

The Rylance family were the owners of the sleigh and the tractor; they lived the longest distance from us.Their father would get them started and the girls would drive over to our house about 2 1/2 miles southwest of them. They may have stopped and picked up others on their way.

By the time they got to our house, my brothers were ready to drive and the girls were ready to let them. We had straw on the bed of the sleigh to help keep us warm as well as blankets. I also remember a time when my older siblings would take my gloves off and warm my fingers, or take my boots off and warm my toes in their hands. If we got too cold, we often would jump off and run beside the sleigh.

Several of our families had smaller sleds with steel runners. We used “wash line rope” to fasten two smaller sleds on behind, one on each rear corner of the larger sleigh. The small sleds had no brakes, except dragging feet. And the ropes sometimes would snap and they would go sailing off in any direction.

We never tied on more than two sleds because it was too dangerous. Only the big boys and a couple of the girls were brave enough to ride the two sleds behind because you were very close to the road, and it seemed like they were flying. I wanted to try it so badly, but they would never let me because I was too little.

Since we seldom met a car, there really was no danger in what we were doing. Our parents weren’t worried because they knew the big kids would take care of us. (I think they secretly remembered how much fun that activity was when they were pulled behind horses.)

Yes, we could go faster on a tractor, but we didn’t go significantly faster. While we rode, we sang Christmas songs. It seemed like we stayed out all afternoon, but probably it was only an hour and a half or two hours when they brought us home. I only remember one time of being so cold that I cried. After warming our hands and feet on the floor registers in the bathroom, we drank homemade hot

chocolate and played board games together on the living room floor.

We got fresh air, exercise, camaraderie, and responsibility all rolled into one activity. We all took care of each other and everyone had fun.

With Bells On

by Karla Cooper

"We’ll be there with bells on!” My sister texted a familiar cheerful response to my suggested get-together plans. In our family discussions, “with bells on” was as traditional an answer as cut-out Christmas cookies at holiday time.

Mom must have used that saying when we were children, and in my mind there was a connection with “Jingle Bells,” a “one-horse sleigh,” and the genuine sleigh bells that she hung on our front door. I had imagined those little jingling things in store decorations, but Mom’s long strip of sleigh bells came down from what we imagined was Grandma’s early sleigh harness. 

Our saying “with bells on” probably arrived from Grandma, too. She might have remembered that earlier generation’s sleigh or wagon team decked out for a Christmas trip to church, town or family visit. Mounted on a worn-looking, cracked leather strap, our double throated brass bells reflected decorating lights on shiny gold surfaces.

I still hear those metallic janglings. Their ringing was not the bright sound of the music, “Sleigh Ride.” Their tone was deeper and richer and became like family holiday music signaling friendly arrivals.

When we were very young, on one special Christmas Eve we were all upstairs with Mom for a reading of Christmas stories like “The Night before Christmas.” Being oldest, I knew Santa’s secret, but wide-eyed wonder filled the faces of my brothers and sisters as we heard those bells ringing, along with shouting, from our front door below. 

Tumbling down the stairs, we felt open-door-cold, saw Dad leaning out that door waving, and heard him calling out “Merry Christmas,” and “Thank you Santa!” We hurried to the door where that gift-giving elf had already vanished. But in our living room, brightly-wrapped presents lodged under the lighted tree. In the center, our Nativity figurines reminded us Whose birthday we were celebrating.

Through the years, covered in her baking apron, and surrounded by delicious aromas escaping out of the kitchen, Mom would also stand at her bell-decorated door giving warm hugs, and jangling those bells as greetings for homecoming family members. We knew then that we were home.

I’ve heard “with bells on,” as a saying, used by other people, words undoubtedly also inherited from pioneer and settler roots. That celebratory feeling of anticipation rings just the right happy note to any invitation’s reply. Years later, in her retirement apartment, Mom kept her tradition. When we appeared for a holiday visit “with bells on,” her sleigh bells always hung on the door, and Christmas cookies waited inside.

Source : https://www.ourmidland.com/special_sections/article/mdn-holiday-traditions-16702178.php

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