Happy Holidays Please enjoy the Holiday links I found for you. Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season. 

Pam Petty   

  Many of you heard about the trouble we had with our Christmas tree last year, so here is the story.  If you still believe in the magic and wonder of tree-trimming, gift-buying, holiday-meal-fixing, and harmonious-family-gatherings, you probably don't want to read this, so you can click HERE and go straight to the links.  For those of you who are also strung-out, spent-out, smiled-out, and ho-hoed out, read along.


  For the record books, this will go down as 
CHRISTMAS 1998: 
THE YEAR THE CHRISTMAS TREE WOULD NOT STAND  

    For twenty-two years of marriage, we have always had a live Christmas tree.  Sometimes it is a cut tree, sometimes it is a tree that can be replanted, but never is it an artificial tree.  So each year requires the ritual of procuring the new live tree.  This almost never happens without incident.  Some of the stories can be told now because enough time has passed that the pain has somewhat eased. But it may be years and years before any of us can tell the story of last year's tree without pointing fingers (could be any one of a variety of fingers) or breaking down.
    For the first time in our Christmas-tree-buying history, we were able to go to a local Christmas tree farm and, as a family, select, cut, and gleefully bring our own Christmas tree over the threshold into our home.  My husband, our two teenage children and I piled into the pickup and we drove to the farm.  I had visions of "The Waltons" chopping down their own tree and gleefully bringing it across the threshold of their happy home.  When we got to the Christmas tree farm, we walked from tree to tree and each time my husband laid down on the ground and looked from the trunk of the tree to top to see if the tree was straight.  After about 14 times of doing this and each time pronouncing that the tree was crooked, it was apparent to me that there were no straight trees and we might as well buy the prettiest crooked tree (stereotypical "female" logic I have since been told). Everyone was getting pretty tired out from all this tree shopping.  The kids were whining, my husband was covered with pine needles, and the "glow" of this whole process had worn off.  We made the purchase and loaded it in the back of the truck for the short ride home.
     I now know how the people in Poltergeist felt with an evil presence in the house!  We pulled out our trusty tree stand, the one that has held many beautiful trees over the years.  I held the tree as my husband tightened the screws at the base that are supposed to hold the tree in place.  Two hours later, bathed in sweat, my eyes puffy from my allergy to pine trees, and many verbal exchanges later (the likes of which cannot be printed here) my husband and I threw the tree stand away.  Casualty number one.
   Thinking that the tree stand was old and that a new tree stand would be stronger, we began our quest for an industrial strength tree stand.  All the while the new tree is lying on its side in the den, looking like a fallen soldier - dying of thirst.  Hunter that he is, my husband came home with another tree stand that had required a trip to Wal-Mart and one to the hardware store.  We would prevail. Monday night we began again, me holding tree upright and my husband tightening the new super-strength screws.  We twisted, we turned, we discussed physics and who in our household was not living right.  We finally got the tree to stand erect, quickly put on the lights and went to bed satisfied with ourselves.  The next morning, we entered the den to find the tree on its side and forever looking like cats had been running in circles through it.  We threw away the new, twisted, pathetic tree stand, propped the tree up in the corner leaving sappy smears on the walls.  Casualty number two.
     I don't know if it is that we are a determined group of people or if we are just stupid, but the next day my husband drove to Lebanon, bought another tree stand that exemplified the latest in tree-stand technology, and we spend yet another evening in an attempt to have a vertical Christmas tree.  I can't tell you the complete sequence of events because my mind is cloudy on the details, but I can tell you that saws, wires, nails, and lawyers were discussed during the course of the evening.  For about 40 minutes, just long enough for us to re-string the lights on the tree, it stood erect and then slowly started going south.  It was clear that my husband and I could no longer work together on this project.  During the course of that evening, the tree got shorter (thanks to the saw), recounts of how this Christmas tree came into our possession no longer resembled reality, and yet another Christmas tree stand died a cruel death.  Casualty number three.
     Fearing that casualty number four would be my husband or myself, I took matters into my own hands. The next morning as I saw yet another pool of water spilled from the dilapidated tree stand, broken ornaments, and twisted lights, I began fantasizing about draining the gas from the John Deere and having myself a little "tree lighting" ceremony.  I was looking for a siphon of some sort when I found the saw.  Figuring that a little saw dust on my floor couldn't make matters much worse, I began my attack on the lower limbs of that tree.  Several limbs and a couple of wrestling matches later, our forever "shrinking" tree lay waiting for my next attack.  I went to the garage and brought in this huge black, plastic bucket.  With a sudden burst of super-human strength, I grabbed that tree by the trunk with one hand and shoved it down in the bucket.  The base of the trunk did not reach the bottom, but I balanced the tree on its branches across the top of the bucket.  I can only imagine the wild look in my eyes at this point, for there was no one here to witness this spectacle and, therefore, no one except me who has to live with the memories.
     Refusing to take the decorations off the tree and start all over, I did a "patch" job on the askew ornaments and twisted lights.  I added gallons of water to the bucket and plugged in the lights fully aware that I would probably be electrocuted and the tree would be the winner after all.  Much to my surprise, the lights worked (at least most of them, I was not picky at this point).  The final touch was to add the beautiful, old-world Santa, all dressed in cream-colored, fur-trimmed velvet, to the top of the tree.  The branches at the top of tree were twisted and frayed from previous days' abuse and I had to cram a whole handful of the top of the tree into the Santa to get him to stay up there on top of that tree.  The final effect was that Santa was slightly tilted to the east and was looking Heavenward.  It looked like he was praying and I suspect that he was due to my acclamation that if the tree fell again, the tree, every ornament, light and tree-topper (namely, Santa) will be thrown in the river behind our house.
    On day five of operation "Tree Stands Alone" I was able to walk through the room without flinching when I saw the tree.  My family knew not to mention the tree to me and I put a sign by the back door (THANK YOU FOR NOT MENTIONING THE CHRISTMAS TREE) warning any unsuspecting, Holiday-spirit-filled, people who might unknowingly walk into my house and pronounce, "Oh, what a beautiful tree!"
 
    Please read my mother's poem regarding our battle with this tree.  A mother always knows the right thing to say:  

The Christmas Tree that Would Not Stand 
Jean White
 

Oh, Christmas tree,
Oh, Christmas tree,  
Dear Lord, have mercy on my family and me.
 
We are going to have to kill this Christmas tree.
 
Big and round and freshly cut from the ground,
 
The crooked tree, dear Lord, we plan to drown.
 
A rope we plan to tie around its crown
 
And drag it, Lord, along the ground
 
To the river behind our house we are bound.
 
With wide smiles on our faces we will stand around,
 
Watch the tree as it falls into the water without a sound,
 
And watch with glee until it drowns.
 
Our Christmas will never be the same,
    
Lord, we have all gone insane.


Links to clipart:

http://www.christmassoftware.com/
    The clipart scene at the top of this page is from this site.


http://www.cpsweb.com/holclip.htm
Choose your holiday, and find some wonderful clipart for it here!

http://www.clip-art.com/
    Small clip art (see wreaths on READ 330 page).

 

http://www.santaconnection.com/santapages/main.html
    This site has soooo much stuff - clipart, send Santa a letter, play games, etc.

http://www.socool.com/socool/xmasgift.html
    This site really is socool.  Check it out for sure.

 

http://christmas.com/
    Bring up outlines and color on screen (snowman, poinsetta, etc.).

http://www.usacitylink.com/xmas/tictactoe/
    Bored?  Play Tic-Tac-Toe with the computer.

http://www.cameron.edu/~mikel/christmas/
    La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.  Ready to sing?  96 Christmas carols at this site and a really cool dancing Santa.

http://www.users.sccoast.net/tecteach/carol/
    Twenty-four Christmas carols depicted in pictures - you have to look at each picture and guess the title of the song (answer key included).

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/3680/xmasindx.htm
    Wow!  Another terrific collection of favorite Christmas carols. Other Christmas links included.

http://www.usacitylink.com/xmas/
    Appropriately named "Winter Web Wonderland" - you are going to love this site (and the big white bear, too).

http://www.maddymayhem.com/christmas/
        Visit CHRISTMAS 1998 page! You'll find crafts, words to your favourite Christmas songs, Electronic Christmas Cards, Holiday Screensavers and Desktop themes and much more. We'll be updating often from now until December 25th!

http://www.christmasgifts.com/
    Clip art, gifts, greeting cards, music.

http://www.holidaychannel.com/
    The Holiday Channel.

http://horseracing.miningco.com/library/blxmas.htm
    Presents compliments of this site.


http://delrich.home.mindspring.com/
http://www.cemlife.com/prod05.htm

This site allows you to download Christmas programs.
http://humor.devil-box.com/holidays/christmas/programs/

Other Web Sites Relating to the Holiday Season:
RESOURCES, LESSONS AND ACTIVITIES:

THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS:
http://www.holidays.net/christmas/story.htm
Span the globe with this concise history of Christmas, going back 4000 years.

THE CHRISTMAS STORY (BIBLICAL):
http://www.heartsweb.com/christmas/Angels.htm
 From Luke (taken from the New International Version); and with Christmas music.

ASPECTS OF THE ANTEBELLUM CHRISTMAS:
http://www.victoriana.com/christmas/all-links.htm
Alabama was the first state to make Christmas a holiday, in 1836. As fifteen more states quickly joined after 1850 to make it a legal holiday, the date of December 25th became standardized (previously celebrated on Jan. 6th or Dec. 6th). The post civil war era made Christmas standard fare, celebrating much as we do today. One reason the author postulates is an attitude of compromise between clergy and secular concerns, as shown in Dickens' popular Christmas Carol. Caroling and Christmas- only songbooks also became popular at this time. Read more, as well as a good history on Saint Nicolas, the gift-bearer, and Santa Claus.

CHRISTMAS IN THE MIDDLE AGES:
http://www.chin.gc.ca/christmas/mag.htm
Follow the links at this site to explore the origins of both secular and religious Christmas traditions.

ORIGINS OF CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD:
http://www.bconnex.net/~mbuchana/realms/christmas/origindx.html
From the now traditional advent calendar, the Yule log, wassail, pointsettias, Christmas cards, mistletoe, plum pudding. . . to the more esoteric:  "first-footing", "dipping in the kettle", or "eistedfodd"--you'll find brief descriptions and histories of each tradition here.

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI:
http://www.auburn.edu/~vestmon/Gift_of_the_Magi.html
O. Henry's story online, courtesy of the Gutenberg Project. A nice feature here is the linked net dictionary to define difficult words.

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS:
http://www.educa.rcanaria.es/usr/zonzamas/virginia.htm
The 1897 New York Sun editorial for the famous letter.

DICKENS AND CHRISTMAS:
http://www.fidnet.com/~dap1955/dickens/christmas.html
What would Christmas be without Dickens and Ebeneezer? Find interesting facts, many links to take you to a Dickensian Christmas.

STUDYWEB'S CHRISTMAS STORIES:
http://www.studyweb.com/lit/child/clchristmas.htm
You'll find the familiar stories online here--and usually with illustrations as well-- like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, or A Child's Christmas in Wales (my personal favorite!); but also look for other stories and poems, including an interactive James and the Christmas Wagon.

SPREADING CHRISTMAS CHEER SPREADSHEET LESSON:
http://www.tamu-commerce.edu/coe/shed/espinoza/s/tschoerner-h-lp1.html
This holiday lesson plan is appropriate for upper elementary to middle school students.

MERRY CHRISTMAS IN 135 LANGUAGES:
http://www.flw.com/merry.htm
Learn them all by Christmas!! You can click on the country for the flag and its national anthem
as well.

ACTIVITY ADVENT CALENDAR:
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/7134/Christmas/chradvent.htm
Click on the character/date, and you will find an activity for each day in this Advent Calendar. Appropriate for grades K-3; printable pages.

MAKE A CHRISTMAS VILLAGE:
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/7134/Christmas/chrvillage.htm
With a printer, paper, scissors and glue, you can put together this wonderful Christmas village. All ages will have fun with this one!

GOLF TEE ANGEL ORNAMENT:
http://www.craftcentralstation.com/christmas/projects/golfangel.html
This project is very simple, and perfectly suited to younger hands, yet elegant at the same time. A wonderful and easy gift to make and take home!

TERRA COTTA SOLDIER 0R NUTCRACKER:
http://www.craftcentralstation.com/christmas/projects/soldiers.html
Elementary to middle school children can have fun with this Christmas project, adding as much detail or creativity as they wish. Start with 5 - 2" terra cotta pots, some paint, and voila!

DECOUPAGE ORNAMENTS:
http://www.craftcentralstation.com/christmas/projects/decoballs.html
Another easy craft for elementary students. Decorate your classroom, or children can take them home for their own trees.

CHRISTMAS PINATA:
http://www.cyber2.com/christmas2.html
A very simple ornament-style pinata to make, just in time for your class Christmas party!

CRAFT A LUMINARY:
http://users.hsonline.net/kidatart/htdoc/lesson51.htm
When lit up, these luminaries are quite beautiful, as well as inexpensive to make. Not appropriate for younger children.

BIZARRE AMERICAN HOLIDAYS IN DECEMBER:
http://tqd.advanced.org/2886/dec.htm
Apparently we haven't even begun to cover all holidays this month, as evidenced in the following site, Bizarre American Holidays!  (National Cotton Candy Day??  National Ding-a-Ling Day. . .!!) Have fun reading them with your class!

HOLIDAYS AROUND THE WORLD, ALL YEAR:
http://www.rubicon.com/passport/holidays/holidays.htm
Looking for a reason to celebrate? You'll surely find one here, in this comprehensive calendar!

A LINK TO CHRISTMAS CRAFTS (K-6)
Crafts for Christmas: A list of themed holiday activities you can do with your elementary age child.
http://www.imagitek.com/xmas/crafts/






 

 
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