WRITERS’ SERIES: Christmas Tree Saturday

(Editor’s note: With the holiday season more needed than ever after a year that has been challenging to say the least, The Westfield News asked several members of the WhipCity Wordsmiths to share a thoughtful recollection of years past. We hope this series of cherished holiday memories by local writers will enlighten you and perhaps even remind you of a time from your past that you also treasure.)


Judith P. Foard-Giucastro has had a passion for writing for many years and enjoys telling a good story. She first wrote about her high school years in “Senior Year” which was published in 2012, and late last year she released “Journey to Christmas,” which she first penned in 1981 based on a journal she kept throughout the 1980 Christmas season living in Westfield.

Judith P. Foard-Giucastro’s latest book is “Journey to Christmas,” based on a journal she kept during the 1980 Christmas season. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Her books can be purchased on Amazon, and she also has copies to sell by emailing her at [email protected]. Foard-Giucastro shares an excerpt from “Journey to Christmas” here with our readers.

Christmas Tree Saturday

Despite persistent efforts of my school-aged children to change the purchase of a Christmas tree to an earlier date in December, my husband and I still stuck with the plan of buying it the Saturday before Christmas. Agitation to change the date especially increased in years when that day fell near to Christmas.  It was December 20, and Christmas Tree Saturday had arrived. The weather was fit for only Arctic explorers to venture out as the wind blew mercilessly across the snow. Unfortunately, there was no chance that a trip out to purchase a tree could be delayed with a mere five days left until Christmas.

As we set out, we recalled past trips to a tree farm in Russell, but unfortunately this year we would not be going there as the farm’s supply of trees had already been sold. How we would miss the trip to the hilltop farm. Near the house at the farm was a small shed where we always selected a saw and started our trek through the fields looking for a tree. I especially liked to take time in making the selection, for much of the joy of finding a tree for me was walking through the fields and admiring the beauty of the hills and the trees. After choosing a tree, one of us got down on all fours and slid the saw under the dense growth of branches to the trunk. Once the tree was cut, we dragged it down to the shed and paid the owner, a tall ruddy faced man with a friendly smile. After tying the tree on top of the car or stuffing it in the trunk, we made our way down the scenic woodland road content with our purchase.

Alas, this year was different. After bundling ourselves in our heaviest coats, we set out toward the northeastern corner of town in search of a farm that supposedly had trees for sale. When we reached the farm, there were no trees for sale. We drove along several adjoining roads searching for another tree farm, but our efforts were in vain. We decided that one remaining option was to go to a large stand that had cut trees. Once we looked at the trees at the stand, we decided the prices were too high.

The only option left was to go to a nursery that had both live and cut trees. (The nursery was located where Walmart now stands.) We liked the idea of buying a live tree, for we could plant in our yard. At the nursery, the prices were more reasonable, but the selection of remaining trees was small. The young man assisting us told us that a live tree could not be delivered to our house until Monday. We examined both the live and cut trees and narrowed our choice to one of each.

Then the arguing began. Two family members wanted the live tree. “We will have a tree we can plant, and it is not as wasteful as buying a cut one. Even if they deliver it Monday we’ll have time to decorate it before Christmas,” the two maintained.

The other two argued, “But we don’t want to wait any longer! Can’t we get a tree we can decorate today? Besides, the live tree is too small!” On and on the controversy raged, the supporters of each side throwing forth their best arguments, stopping only long enough to move inside the shop, for even the heat for the battle could not warm freezing fingers and toes!    

After a while, a decision was finally reached. It would be the cut tree, a prickly but very full-branched Scotch pine. We got out the ropes and old tattered red bedspread that we had brought with us. The young clerk eagerly assisted us in tying the tree to the top of the car, no doubt relieved that we would soon be leaving.

Once the tree was tied securely enough to protect it from the brisk wind, my husband and the two children all crowded into the back seat of the car.  In my haste to assist with tying the tree onto the roof, I had tied the front door on the passenger side shut before my husband could get into the front seat! But finally we were prepared to leave. Our car must have been a strange sight slowly making its way through the center of town. The driver was alone in the front, and three persons were crammed in the back of a small car. All the while, the red bedspread under the tree was flapping wildly down around the sides of the car windows. After the long, cold ordeal, we decided that the trimming of the tree had best wait until the next day.

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