Last updated: December 18. 2013 7:08AM
J.A. Bolton Storyteller

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This was a phrase I heard many times between Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was a young boy. I knew I’d better get them chores done and be well behaved if’n I was going to get a few of the things I wanted for Christmas.

Our Christmas preparations would begin on Thanksgiving Day as this was our first annual hunting trip for the men of our family. We would hunt as my Dad’s old home place in the upper end of Richmond County. As we walked over the land, we would pick out the best looking Christmas tree we could find and mark it with a ribbon so we could find it later.

Another Christmas preparation in our family was a couple weeks before Christmas, we would kill hogs to have plenty of fresh meat for the holidays. There’s not anything better than a fresh ham or sausage biscuit around Christmas time. I reckon that’s partly the reason I’ve got heart problems today, but boy, it sure was good.

Also before Christmas, Dad and my uncles would ride down to S.C. and purchase a bunch of fireworks to help celebrate the holidays. They would bring back several bags of cherry bombs, T.N.T.’s, strings of smaller firecrackers, rockets, roman candles and lots of sparklers. We believed in bringing Christmas in with a bang.

About a week before Christmas, Dad would put an old saw, hatchet and .22 rifle in the truck of our car. Mom would put in a picnic lunch and we would ride up to the home place to cut down the Christmas tree and gather other fresh Christmas decorations. After the tree was located and cut down, it was off to find a holly tree, the one with the most beautiful berries. Then we’d walk down toward the creek and gather a bushel of what we called running cedar. That’s a green vine that grows on the ground and resembles cedar. I almost forgot, but what the rifle was for was to shoot down the mistletoe that seems to grow best in the tops of the tallest trees. We would tie the tree on the top of the car and have a trunk full of fresh decorations for the holidays.

The next day Mom would send me up into the loft of our house to hand down the boxes of lights and other ornaments. All the lights had to be burning before going on the tree. I remember one year Mom bought some new bubble lights. These lights were about four inches long and different colors. They were filled with a liquid and when they got hot, the liquid would start bubbling and form the most beautiful lights. After the lights were placed on the tree, the ornaments, garland, icicles and of a course a beautiful star finished out the tree. Then the holly would be placed on the coffee table and mantle along with the running cedar and candles. The mistletoe was placed over every door in the hopes that Saint Nick would soon be there.

I hope you and your family have as much fun as I did decorating for Christmas while growing up as a young lad not far from Rockingham. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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