I am totally buzzed to have my SCBWI colleague and friend Jo Kittinger joining this edition of the 12 Days – all the way from Alabama, USA. Today she presents a Christmas memory of hay bales and tree lopping and cotton fields and sharing the joy of Christmas. What a delight.
For many years as our children were growing up, we made getting our Christmas tree into an grand adventure. No street-side stands or store parking lots for us. Our sites were set on a Christmas tree farm about an hour’s drive away. We loaded the van with goodies, sometimes a friend or two, and took off to find our tree.
Alabama weather is too warm for spruce and fir, but rows of Virginia pines and Leyland cyprus hugged the rolling hills. A wagon with bales of hay for benches, pulled by a tractor, carried us into the fields and back to the gate with our tree. Mrs. Claus stood waiting with hot chocolate or spiced cider when we returned with our treasure.
Some years the weather was balmy and we walked the fields with rolled up sleeves. Other years found us bundled in bulky coats, hats and mittens, our breath going before us like a foggy elf. Choosing the tree was democratic process, each tree getting critiqued for height, width, and fullness. But most importantly, my husband insisted, it had to have a straight trunk. When the winning tree was discovered, the finder got first rights to cut it down — laying on the ground, pulling the bow saw across the trunk. Most years my husband took over to finish the job.
My biggest delight was sharing this experience with friends who’d never cut down a tree before. When our kids were teens, my daughter took along a friend. A cotton field lay beside the Christmas trees and the kids all pulled bolls of cotton as we searched the farthest rows for our tree. As we lifted our glorious tree onto the wagon, the friend said, “This is what Christmas is supposed to be like!”
Living life to the fullest, enjoying family, friends, faith and nature, Jo finds stories all around! Jo has published over 25 books for children, including easy readers, picture books and middle grade nonfiction. Jo had two picture books released in 2012 — the House on Dirty-Third Street and A Breath of Hope.
Jo is the Co-Regional Advisor of the Southern Breeze chapter of the SCBWI and her 2010 title Rosa’s Bus won the Crystal Kite award last year!
More on the Carolinas later but Pam Vaughan (official photographer for the New England conference last weekend) has just sent me oodles and poodles of photos … so if you don’t want to see piccies of me in action – then look away now! There are photos of me with friends, of me panelling, photos […]