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A Gailey Cousin Christmas Tree Tradition

Most of my family reunions and get-togethers have been centered around holidays or special events. It's hard to pick out a special personality (we have several - as I'm sure most of you do) and I've thought about all of the pets we've had in the past, the special heirlooms that grandma loved to display during the holidays and I'm really having a hard time coming up with a single one.

My aunt Irene and uncle Raymond always had the big get-togethers at their house, because it was the largest, had acres of pecans trees to play under and they had the most grandchildren! Of course, all of that was later, after all six of us cousins had grown up and had children of our own.

Thinking of Christmas, my mind keeps going back to the time before I moved into Grandma and Doc's home and we celebrated at our house. I remember getting a beautiful bride doll one Christmas. Wish I still had that doll. Have no idea where she traveled to after she got married. And then there was one time that I got an entire Cowgirl outfit. I looked like the real deal. I remember we used to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with all of my Gailey cousins and aunts and uncles.

Time passed and my sisters and I moved to our grandparents' home, and the tradition continued of having the entire family there, unless one of them was working, which was unlikely. I don't know what happened to the decorations for the tree from year to year, because Grandma would let me decide each Christmas what color we would use. One year I chose pink, another all lavender, then blue ~ you get the picture! And the trees were all mis-shapen oak trees that either Doc or one of the three son-in-laws had cut and brought to the house.

The family got together at Aunt Maedelle and Uncle Floyd's house Christmas of 1957 and the group of black and white photos below were taken then.

"O Christmas Tree ~ Our Cedar Tree"

Sister Peggy and her Christmas Doll
 Sister Ann and her Christmas Monkey
 Cousin Jim and his Rex '90' Wagon & Bike
 Family opening gifts - Judy sitting in middle.
Linda Kay sitting at right.
Peggy distributing gifts from under tree.
Ann sitting in Daddy's lap lower left.
Linda Kay displaying gifts including my Nancy Drew Mysteries
 Grandma Gailey opens her dresser set.
Sitting beside her is her father, Harvey Vandegar Puckett.
From left Maedelle, Vernelle, Edna, Harvey, Judy and Jim
Cousins Jim and Reggie
This may have been the Christmas before
since Jim and Reggie were younger.
They  both got a bike with attached wagon!

Our family didn't have a lot of money in the 40s and 50s, and I remember Doc shopping for Christmas presents for all of his grandchildren. Most of the time he would give us each a stocking from the local five and dime ~ Duke & Ayers ~ a red see-through stocking filled with nuts, fruit, and candy. Some of the most unusual hard candy shapes I had ever seen. My favorite was always the peppermint swirl. I remember him buying the two boys pocket knives, but I can't remember what he gave us four girls other than the stockings.

I remember one Christmas we drew names to see to whom we would give a gift. I drew my only girl cousin. I am only five months older than she is and we went to school together and were in the same grade all the way through. We have remained like sisters. The picture shows her with the gift I gave her that year. She says she still has the books; several Nancy Drew Mysteries that she still has on her bookshelves. She was in an accident later that winter when their house caught fire and her back was burned. She said those books were read and reread while she was in the hospital and recuperating at home.

I don't remember an argument or bad feelings in the family at Christmas, but then, I was a little girl. I only saw the promise of Christmas. Grandma would read the Christmas story and uncle Raymond would give thanks for all our blessings. The food was abundant and so was the love.

This post has been submitted for the 100th Edition for the Carnival of Genealogy...There's One In Every Family, hosted by Jasia over at Creative Gene. This is Jasia's 100th Edition!


Angie Pruett said…
A beautiful story, Judy, and the crazy part is I remember some of the same things!
Peggy Duke said…
I tried to comment on your blog, but once again cannot see the letter. Here is my comment: I remember this Christmas, Judy. Do you think it could have been the year we caught the roof on fire with our sparklers and the Putt boys, John Tom and Mike, came to warn us?
You must remember that stuffed gorilla that was as big as you were, Angie!

Peggy, I think that must have been a later Christmas when sparklers got into the roof from the front yard.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Linda Kay Cox said…
I remember, too. Great Christmas! Yes, that was the Christmas that my new pajamas and housecoat caught on fire...both were tied in a knot in front and Mother could not get them off. She rolled me up in the living room rug...only thing that saved me! And, I did read those books...lots of times. Six weeks in the hospital flat on my stomach gave me lots of time. I think this Christmas was celebrated at Maedelles's house. Peggy, the one you are thinking about was later and when we were out playing with sparklers, some got on the roof!
When people grabbed things to save, Mother grabbed the Sears catalog...most important thing in the house! Love the blog. Stories are great. Glad you do this.
Jim Carlyle said…
Thanks, Judy!
Maggy said…
I love these photos, Judy! The story about the sparklers has followed me my whole life. My father dutifully told and retold us the story of the roof catching on fire any time there was an occassion that involved sparklers. I still don't think he sleeps on the Fourth of July while the fireworks are going off.
J.M. said…
Great post, loved the pictures as well!
Thanks, J.M.! I originally remembered our trees being mesquites but my cousins told me NO, they were cedar! Who, ever heard of a mesquite Christmas tree?

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