By Joyce Caughron Rhodes
One of the fondest memories I have of many Christmases, as a child, was the one when I was nine years old. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I can just close my eyes and see myself walking down the sidewalk near my home. I was almost there. It was a little later than twilight. I was coming home after visiting my girlfriend, Carolyn DeMyer. We lived at the end of Main Street and it was about the distance from downtown Tiptonville to East End from her house. It was very-cold and I could see my breath, frosting as I exhaled. The street light was at the end of my journey, just across from my house. The sidewalks, the roofs, trees and everything was covered with about an inch of snow., hiding all the flaws and covering everything with a soft blanket. All along the way, everyone had their lights on giving a warm glow., casting golden tones on the snow. The smoke was curling up the chimneys like a whirlwind floating above the chimneys, soft and gentle swaying with a light breeze.
I knew what awaited me when I entered the house. Daddy had gone out on his lunch break and not too far, from behind our house, in a sort of wooded area, he found and brought home a Christmas tree for us. It was not one of these beautiful pines, but I thought that cedar tree was just perfect, of course at the time, I didn’t know it was a cedar tree. I knew that later. My two brothers and sister, all younger than me, helped for a time. The boys had other things to do. My mother, sister and I went about making a beautiful chain rope to go on the tree. We cut strips of colored construction paper, left over from one of my school projects. We cut them in about quarter inch widths and five- inch long strips and glued each different colored, inter-twined with the next. It was very pretty. We then strung popcorn. We strung a few, then ate a few, then strung a few more, but we finally finished. The next project was stringing all the red berries. When we finished the string of berries, we added ornaments and some tinsel. I think we only had one or two sets of Christmas lights and of course they went on first. Finally, we made a star, cutting out the perfect size from cardboard, then gluing gold foil on it and that made a beautiful star, as good as any store bought. It appeared as if our Christmas tree was wearing jewelry.
The next morning, I could hardly wait to see what Santa Claus had brought. I told my Momma and Daddy months before, that I wanted a pair of roller skates and sure enough I did get my roller skates, with skate key and all. I did have a few more things, but nothing could take my eyes off-of my new skates. I put a long string through the hole in the skate key and strung it around my neck, after I had adjusted the skates to fit my shoes. I put on my coat, scarf and gloves and started to the front door. Momma said, Joyce, you can’t skate now, there’s snow on the sidewalk. I told her, “Momma, I just have to go try out my skates.” The wheels were made of metal and she thought I would ruin them, but she let me go. They felt great on my feet and I felt like the luckiest person in the world.