James Jones column: Hanging memories on a Christmas tree tradition

Published 6:35 am Friday, December 8, 2023

Growing up in Tuscaloosa, the second weekend of December always served as my family’s countdown to Christmas.

For us, the time usually meant beginning preparations two weeks before Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was a perfect way to bring in the holiday.  The tradition began before I was born and carried on with my younger brother, when I moved away.

The first part was done the Saturday before when my mother, sister, brother and I hung up the assorted lights outside.

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We always hung up the tree on the second Sunday after church service and dinner. I managed to contribute despite a distraction when the San Francisco 49ers, our second favorite team, were playing on TV at the time.

We often received new ornaments to hang on the tree, mixed with silver tinsel.  We hung a mixture of lights, big and small, around the tree.

My mother never preferred real trees. Every two years, she opted to purchase artificial ones at either Zayre’s or Gaylords, two popular department stores in the 1970’s, years before Wal-Mart came into the area.

We usually didn’t wrap presents until two days before Christmas. While we were sleeping on Christmas Eve, our wish list was answered with presents under the tree delivered by “ Santa Claus.”

We usually took down the lights outside and the tree on the last Sunday of December, a few days before a new year begins. We pack them in a box and put them into a closet for another year.

While Christmas tree traditions are different for other families across the country, I still love hanging onto my memories growing up in Tuscaloosa.