I’m a traditionalist when it comes to specific holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the way I’ve always been and, at my age, I don’t intend to change my mind.

Take the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t want a pot roast or homemade vegetable/beef soup with cornbread. I want turkey, honey baked ham, cornbread dressing, my daughter’s casseroles (green bean, some kind of something with pineapple), salad, asparagus with cheese sauce … homemade (not just American cheese melted over it), maybe some broccoli, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, Carrie’s Texas potatoes, Kelly’s pumpkin pie, Hayden’s mac cheese, banana pudding, turkey shaped sugar cookies, Susan’s spinach dip, green and black olives, cheese ball, and other stuff.

Hmmmm…this seems a wee bit like gluttony. Maybe a little, but it’s Thanksgiving and not all people will eat everything although I know a few who may take a bite of everything. That’s okay, too.

Last year, at the height of the pandemic, we did not all come together as a family. Those who lived at our home and Bill’s sister, Kitty ate on our front porch. It was cold and windy.

We had a lot of the normal Thanksgiving fare, but our teeth were chattering too much to enjoy the turkey, dressing, and ham. We had coats, hats, and gloves on with our masks pulled down just enough for us to open our mouths to shovel in food. I think the asparagus had ice crystals on the ends. Let me tell ya. This was not the Thanksgiving meal of dreams. It was more nightmarish and uncomfortable.

We tried. We honestly tried to make it the best of a miserable happening. And we have since laughed about it. I realize now that I didn’t make turkey shaped cookies, wassail, banana pudding, or even my caramel cake — which I forgot to mention in the above menu along with Hartwell’s homemade cranberry sauce. The family is coming home this year, but Hartwell and Christopher recently moved to New York and can’t make it for Thanksgiving. We’ll all miss them this year. Cranberry sauce will just be out of a can.

Christmas is the next holiday that is full of tradition. Back some years ago, a futuristic,

metal Christmas tree made up of large balls was chosen for the usual place for a tree in front of the courthouse in Calhoun.

Honestly, you would have thought a pile of metallic garbage had been placed on the square. There were some really angry folks. The thing is, so many people forgot about the time in the late 50s or early 60s, when the tree that EVERYONE just had to have if they were of any importance was a pink metal tree with fluffy white balls on and a feathery angel.

I know people in Calhoun or heard tell of residents who actually displayed trees like this and it was acceptable. They were considered avant-garde or in simple words, unusual or not like anything else. Colorful metal trees popped up everywhere. In truth, I wanted a little pink one. My parents were not impressed by these metal trees. In fact, they thought they were silly and if I recall, some considered them an electrical hazard. These trees didn’t last too many seasons, but no matter. I thought they were cool.

Which takes me back to the huge silver tree that I thought was not as bad as some thought. They lamented its position in the center of town at the beginning of Christmas season like a continual sore thumb. I used to think to myself, “What if it was pink?” Maybe it would have been more acceptable, but probably not. It still wasn’t as ugly as some people thought. I figure some people thought it was an insult to Jesus and He was totally not on board with the big metal tree.

The problem with this thinking is that displaying a Christmas tree started out as a pagan tradition. I promise you this is true. Read up on your history of traditions. No matter what people believe, a nice spruce, pine, or evergreen is great as a tree. There is a new tree adorning the square with evergreen glory. It’s lovely and yes, very traditional.

Our family tree is traditional. Bill and I decided that we no longer were going to get a real tree. I had worried about fires starting and was tired of cleaning pine needles everywhere for over 50 years. I had done my duty as the person who made sure our tree had enough water and I would take it down and clean the mess it left.

The artificial tree looks real. Pine scent spray makes it smell real. No more tromping in the woods, cleaning up pine needles, or worrying about fires. And I think Jesus is just fine with it.

Coleen Brooks is a longtime resident of Gordon County who previously wrote for the Calhoun Times as a columnist. She retired as the director and lead instructor for the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Adult Education Department in 2013. She can be reached at coleenbrooks1947@gmail.com.

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