This is a continuation of our blog that has excerpted some Christmas memories from Robert Ruark’s classic book The Old Man and the Boy…
They tell me people buy Christmas trees now. In my days we scouted the Christmas tree for year in advance, and it had to be just right the right size and shape and hard enough to get it so that nobody else was apt to swipe it out from under your nose. Mostly the whole family, Ma, Pa, the old man, the grandmas, and the dogs all piled up into the car and went to get the tree.
The mistletoe was my special province. Mistletoe had to be climbed after if it was any good and somehow I never went after any mistletoe that wasn’t hung up in the top of the cypress tree as big as a California redwood. The holly berries were easy to get it, since they grew on a low bush, , and when you finally got all the stuff home and the women went to work with it, your house suddenly took on the smell of cedar and the clean late afternoon smell of the holly and the smoky spice coming from the bog oak or hickory log with the resin-dripping light wood crackling underneath it.
I remember we would come in and be half dead and full froze, and then a blast of heat from the fireplace intermingled with the scent of food and festivity would smite you in the face. You went over and turned your tail to the fire and you heated up your hands so that the hot water wouldn’t torture him when you washed the muck off. You kicked off your new boots and out came your tired feet which slid into some sloppy slippers and you crawled into a pair of softer pants. Finally you went to the table and ate dedicatedly in an effort to prepare for the next expedition…
It would be push on for Christmas when my grandma, Ms. Lottie, would finally huff into the sitting room and allow as how if we were going to eat turkey this Christmas, she hoped there were some menfolk in the house who could go find a couple wild turkeys to shoot that were not as dumb they were.
The way of a man with a woman is hard, the old man said when he settled down in his rocker and had fired up the old Prince Albert. I reckon it does nothing for us to do but to leave her bed and board for spell. It’s a tough life son you might as well recognize it early. My, my, women are so unreasonable. Why if I had even hinted that maybe we ought to go turkey hunting, she’d of found 56 reasons to keep us home.
While all of these expeditions were special but they were just a warm-up for the main event—food!