As a child, I had this perfect view of my grandparents. They always seemed so put together and knew the ways of the world. As an adult, my Grandma and Grandpa (Sharon and Don) Jones are usually my first contact when I need advice or when I need to vent.
So, when I get to hear the rare stories of the time in their lives before I was even thought of, it makes my day. And let me tell you, my grandparents are hilarious and have some fun stories to tell.
Every year by Thanksgiving, this year aside, grandma has the Christmas tree set up in the main room where we will be opening presents. She goes all out and it always looks perfect.
Recently, we were talking about how she still needed to get the tree put up in time for our Christmas Eve gathering. I asked if they always used the large artificial tree that I'd known throughout my childhood and her answer still makes me laugh.
"Let me tell you about our Christmas trees," grandma said, and a hilarious story ensued detailing four years worth of attempts to use a live Christmas tree.
In 1965, my grandparents had been married a few years and my mom was 18 months old. The growing family moved to Bloomington, where -- for the first time -- they had a large living room.
Grandma was excited because this meant she would get to pick out their first live Christmas tree to set up in their living room. So, they found a nearby tree farm.
"I found one I thought was perfect. Grandpa thought it was too big," grandma recalled.
But, since she wanted it, they strapped the tree to the trunk of the car and headed home. Unfortunately, the tree was too big and would not fit in the front door despite their efforts. The only way to get it in the door was to cut off the bottom half and trim the branches.
But, grandma wasn't discouraged. The next year they decided to go for a live tree once again. Of course, grandpa had to remind her the tree had to be small enough to fit through the door.
She took grandpa's advice and found a smaller tree, but they still ran into a problem.
"How do you expect me to get that tree straight in the stand when the trunk is so crooked?" grandpa asked her.
Once more, grandma and grandpa had been defeated by the Christmas tree, as they were never able to get it straight in the stand.
On the third year, grandpa's list of specifications had grown to include making sure the tree would fit through the door and have a straight trunk.
This time, grandma enlisted the help of her sister, and they tried to find a tree. She and Aunt Marlyas thought they found the perfect tree. It met grandpa's specifications: Narrow with a straight trunk.
But, as the old adage goes, the third time was not the charm.
"I have broken five saw blades trying to whittle down that trunk so it will go in the stand," grandpa told her.
The fourth, and final, year for the great live tree debacle was not helped by the fact grandma had my mother, uncle and their two cousins (all under age 5) staying at the house.
But, she wasn't deterred and tried once again to find the perfect live tree to celebrate Christmas around. The tree's trunk was a slightly curved, but it was suitable for their needs.
"The tree got knocked down three times before I finally wired it to the window," grandma recalled.
Another frustrating tree issue had an even worse end to the season as grandma tried to remove the evergreen from her home. The tree had dried out and as she went through the doorway, needles shot off the branches and got stuck int he loops of the carpet.
"I had to crawl on the floor with tweezers to pull them out. It took us a couple months before we could walk barefoot in the room," grandma said.
The fifth consecutive year was when a tree similar to the one I've known my whole life came into my grandparent's living room.
After grandpa got home from work that year in 1970, grandma asked grandpa to watch the kids. Of course, he wanted to know what her plans were while he sat with the little ones.
"I'm going to get an artificial Christmas tree," she replied.
Sabrina is the editor of the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 812-847-4487.