Thursday, December 29, 2011


At times, it seems as though Christmas has been going on for months, especially since it all began before Thanksgiving. The Christian community understands the meaning of the day, but even we become immersed in the commercial part of the season, too. And why not? It's a time for joy, sharing, caroling, food, and gifting. Even Santa Claus has a part in all the trappings. After a while, though, it all becomes wearying.

I must take after my daddy because he could not wait until it was all over. He always began trying to dismantle the tree to remove it from the living room as soon as the last gift was opened. In addition to the tree, he became tired of the rich food--abundant in my mother's kitchen--and begged her to cook a pot of pinto beans and make cornbread.

When I was in sixth grade, my older sister decided to marry her sweetheart on Christmas Day. Mainly this was due to the fact he was in the Army and wouldn't be home long, but also because our grandmother and grandfather--my daddy's parents--were married on Christmas Day. Daddy began to fume long before the day arrived, wondering how we could get that tree out of the living room so my sister could have her small family wedding in that same room.

On the big day, we got up earlier than usual to open gifts. Daddy kept saying, "Y'all hurry up, now...we don't have all that much time. So, rush we did, through the opening and oohing and aahing, with Daddy pacing and muttering. Soon, it was over, and Mother brought in big trash cans for the boxes and paper. She left the room to tend to the kitchen, Daddy went outside to do something, and my sisters and I went to our bedrooms to dress.

Then...we heard a crash and a tinkle of breaking glass. We all rushed to the living room. The big tree, now bereft of its presents, had fallen over across the living room carpet. Shattered Christmas balls lay about, and the icicles were strung out, and the lights had come loose from the electric plug, so those were dark and dead. So pathetic, this tree looked, as though it had become tired of the yammering about it being in the way.

So, the tree just up and died, falling on its face.

There are some who love to keep the Christmas trappings up and lit as long as possible. I've seen some homes that were decorated the first of November and stayed that way until March.
Halfway between San Marcos and Austin on Interstate 35 on the west side, Crumley's Grocery sat on a lot between a few older houses. The building was many decades old, and it was weathered and cluttered and really not too clean. The inside was absolutely stuffed with all kinds of vintage articles and stuffed animals. The owner was an icon of absurdity and eccentricity.

Most of all, Mr. Crumley outlined the front with Christmas lights decades earlier. Each year, he added more, and never took them down nor turned them off. It became an icon and was featured in the Texas Monthly magazine, a popular periodical filled each month with Texas stories. Just a few years ago, for some reason, it closed and the entire thing was bulldozed. But there was a man who loved Christmas.

On Ranch Road 12 from our house into town, a house sat off to the left. Long ago, the owner had created a peace sign on his roof, outlined with Christmas lights. Once it got it up, he left it... and although the lights didn't burn year round, they were turned on for a few months each year. 

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas             


  1. Jolly ho ho ho. Yes, it's over, Celia. And if you haven't put the death of the Christmas tree in one of your books, you should have. Do it soon or I may steal it. That is hilarious. Christmas never seems quite like Chrsitmas here in FL, but I wouldn't trade the weather for a traditional Hallmark Card holiday so I'm not complaining, just saying. Happy New Year to all.

  2. Great post! Loved it, especially about your dad and the tree and the eccentric...It's over when we finish eating all these Christmas cookies.

  3. My dad was like yours and eager to get the tree down. I like to leave mine up until Jan 6th. Love the dying tree story. You can't make that stuff up, but you should use it.

  4. Loved sharing your memories and it definitely needs to appear in one of your stories. I must admit when I put on a red sweater yet again yesterday (my fall back choice in December)I almost changed it!

  5. Loved the tree story. Great post. I'm ready to undecorate, too. I usually do it on New Year's Day.

  6. DH is like that, too. Must have the trimmings away asap. I loved your post Celia,
    Best wishes for 2012 to yu and yours.

  7. Pinto beans and cornbread, wow! My kind of grub. We always try to keep the lights up through the twelve days of Christmas, but this year will go out tomorrow and remove them. Well, my dear wife will. I'm still kind of laid up with my leg, but I'll be there in spirit. Yeah, the Christmas spirit. LOL

  8. I'm glad it's over,too, Celia. I used to like Christmas, but it's like work now. lol Someone always did the work. When I was a kid I didn't have to do the hard part. I was in the nativity scene at church, received my bag of nuts, oranges, apples and candy then went to grandma's house to open presents, have hot chocolate and cookies then went home to sleep.

    Then the next morning we opened presents, went to church and to grandma's to eat dinner.

  9. Celia,
    Very funny story, the revenge of the tree. My Texas-born mama loved cornbread and pinto beans,too, even for breakfast.
    Happy 2012.

  10. Celia, there's something about Christmas lights. They really help to brighten the night. I love driving to work and see the lights. They kind of take the gloom of the darkness, if that makes sense.

    We'll probably take Christmas down sometime next week, but I think it should end on the Ephiphany, 6 JAN when the 12 days of Christmas are over. Heck, you can never have enough Christmas spirit.

    I guess I like it to linger a little.

  11. I love your daddy. I know it's not acceptable by most to just wish that Christmas was over and ditch the decorations, but there ya go--that's me, too.
    I felt sorry for the pitiful Christmas tree that up and died. What a funny story. I didn't get why it couldn't take part in the wedding but the poor thing must have wanted to. Great blog.

  12. Hi Celia, I know lots of folks around here that have spangly lights up year round, though they only light them around Christmas. I enjoy seeing the lights around and about; I just object to the effort. We still have two trees up, but in our defense, our family gathering is tomorrow, so I didn't want it to look like we had zero holiday spirit. I grump and groan about all the effort to put up our "big" tree, but it truly is a wonder when its all tricked out. So many memories all condensed in one place. Great post! Maggie

  13. What memories you have, Celia. If Christmas ads didn't start in the summer and so much hustle didn't happen for months, I suppose we'd all enjoy Christmas more. We live in the mountains away from a lot of it. When we used to celebrate Christmas, my hubby would bring home a small tree - about 18 feet tall. I guess in the forest, an eighteen footer did look small. We baked fruitcakes and filled the house with that wonderful fragrance, and I'd put up a ladder and pull the boxes of memories out of storage and start to decorate. An ornament I made in kindergarten graced every one of my trees. The ornaments Ken sent home from Vietnam to the children's homemade ornaments added memories and the beautiful ornaments from Europe touched it off with grace. I loved it too much, I suppose because now that some of our loved ones are no longer with it, it is too painful to put up. I love hearing about everyone elses traditions.

  14. Great post, Celia - loved the story of your tree.
    Having been in Floida this Christmas, I agree with Linda that Christmas didn't really seem like Christmas there, with blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in the 80's. But, as I was going away, I didn't put up any decorations this year, so the upside is I don't have to undecorate!
    Happy New Year!

  15. Celia- your Daddy was such a dear man. The fallen tree seemed to agree with him!. Today we had a discussion my DH and I. To remove the decorations or not. He wants to wait till the Epiphanie, but I think I'll remove them on Monday. As for the food, don't even mention it. I'm afraid to step on the scale, but to be honest, it was all so delicious and worth the extra pounds on the hips.

  16. Celia,
    The older I get the more I understand...LOL HOWEVER, I will say, my husband is much like your Dad was, and it has always been a bone of contention between us about how long to leave the tree up and when to start the decorating in the first place. We used to do it on Thanksgiving after the big meal, when everyone was there and school was on holiday.Now, we are lucky to do it 2 weeks before Christmas. My decorations have gotten fewer and fewer as the years have gone by, and this year I talked about buying a little 3 or 4 foot tall tree and setting it on the table. But I could see it disappointed Jessica, so we did the big tree. Of course, I will have to take it down all by myself, and used to that wasn't a big deal, but now, it LOOMS. LOL I'm with your dad on the pinto beans and cornbread. In fact, that will be something I'll probably make tomorrow. LOL Great post, and I loved the Christmas tree story. Yes, you should use that in a book.

  17. Celia, there has to be a metaphor in that tree falling after it was being figuratively pushed aside for other things. Poor tree.

    I'm with Steph. I wait till about a week after the new year. I don't like the idea of "okay, let's get this stuff out of the way now" although as I get older, I have to fight that feeling.

  18. Celia,
    Your suicidal tree story is a hoot! I always put my tree up about mid-December and leave it up to the Feast of the Three Kinds (although a few years it's been up until Robert Burns Day).

    The last few years I've tried to take a deliberate backward step when it comes to Christmas. Fewer presents. More time just hanging out with friends and family. It's made me appreciate the holiday again.