SILVER MAGIC–MERRY CHRISTMAS! by Cheryl Pierson

Cheryl Pierson

 

Several years ago, I had just sold my first short story to Adams Media’s Rocking Chair Reader series. I was on Cloud 9! This story, SILVER MAGIC, was the 2nd story I sold to them and would appear in their first Christmas collection, Classic Christmas: True Stories of Holiday Cheer and Goodwill. I want to share it with you here. This story is true, and is one of the most poignant tales I could ever tell about my grandfather–he died when I was eleven. I never saw this side of him, and I don’t think very many people did–that’s what makes this Christmas story so special.

 

SILVER MAGIC by Cheryl Pierson

Did you know that there is a proper way to hang tinsel on the Christmas tree?

Growing up in the small town of Seminole, Oklahoma, I was made aware of this from my earliest memories of Christmas. Being the youngest in our family, there was never a shortage of people always wanting to show me the right way to do—well, practically everything! When it came to hanging the metallic strands on the Christmas tree, my mother made it a holiday art form.

“The cardboard holder should be barely bent,” she said, “forming a kind of hook for the tinsel.”   No more than three strands of the silver magic should be pulled from this hook at one time. And, we were cautioned, the strands should be draped over the boughs of the tree gently, so as to avoid damage to the fragile greenery.

Once the icicles had been carefully added to the already-lit-and-decorated tree, we would complete our “pine princess” with a can of spray snow. Never would we have considered hanging the icicles in blobs, as my mother called them, or tossing them haphazardly to land where they would on the upper, unreachable branches. Hanging them on the higher branches was my father’s job, since he was the tallest person I knew—as tall as Superman, for sure. He, too, could do anything—even put the serenely blinking golden star with the blonde angel on the very highest limb—without a ladder!

Once Christmas was over, I learned that there was also a right way to save the icicles before setting the tree out to the roadside for the garbage man. The cardboard holders were never thrown out. We kept them each year, tucked away with the rest of the re-useable Christmas decorations. Their shiny treasure lay untangled and protected within the corrugated Bekins Moving and Storage boxes that my mother had renamed “CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS” in bold letters with a black magic marker.

At the end of the Christmas season, I would help my sisters undress the tree and get it ready for its lonely curbside vigil. We would remove the glass balls, the plastic bells, and the homemade keepsake decorations we’d made in school. These were all gently placed in small boxes. The icicles came next, a chore we all detested.

We removed the silver tinsel and meticulously hung it back around the little cardboard hook. Those icicles were much heavier then, being made of real metal and not synthetic plastic. They were easier to handle and, if you were careful, didn’t snarl or tangle. It was a long, slow process—one that my young, impatient hands and mind dreaded.

For many years, I couldn’t understand why everyone—even my friends’ parents—insisted on saving the tinsel from year to year. Then one night, in late December, while Mom and I gazed at the Christmas tree, I learned why.

As she began to tell the story of her first Christmas tree, her eyes looked back through time. She was a child in southeastern Oklahoma, during the dustbowl days of the Depression. She and her siblings had gotten the idea that they needed a Christmas tree. The trekked into the nearby woods, cut down an evergreen, and dragged it home. While my grandfather made a wooden stand for it, the rest of the family popped and strung corn for garland. The smaller children made decorations from paper and glue.

“What about a star?” one of the younger boys had asked.

My grandfather thought for a moment, then said, “I’ve got an old battery out there in the shed. I’ll cut one from that.”

The kids were tickled just to have the tree, but a star, too! It was almost too good to be true.

Grandfather went outside. He disappeared around the side of the old tool shed and didn’t return for a long time. Grandmother glanced out the window a few times, wondering what was taking so long, but the children were occupied with stringing the popcorn and making paper chains. They were so excited that they hardly noticed when he came back inside.

Grandmother turned to him as he shut the door against the wintry blast of air. “What took you so long?” she asked. “I was beginning to get worried.”

Grandfather smiled apologetically, and held up the star he’d fashioned.   “It took me awhile. I wanted it to be just right.” He slowly held up his other hand, and Grandmother clapped her hands over her mouth in wonder. Thin strands of silver magic cascaded in a shimmering waterfall from his loosely clenched fist. “It’s a kind of a gift, you know. For the kids.”

“I found some foil in the battery,” he explained. “It just didn’t seem right, not to have icicles.”

In our modern world of disposable commodities, can any of us imagine being so poor that we would recycle an old battery for the metal and foil, in order to hand-cut a shiny star and tinsel for our children’s Christmas tree?

A metal star and cut-foil tinsel—bits of Christmas joy, silver magic wrapped in a father’s love for his family.

This anthology is only available used now, but it’s well worth purchasing from Amazon and reading so many heartwarming Christmas stories from yesteryear! Hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas and a fantastic 2018!

 Christmas horses

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules

35 Comments

  1. Cheryl- what a wonderful story to share. I certainly learned somethings I never knew it never thought about.
    Great to share a family story about your grandfather.
    Merry Christmas to you & your family.
    Love & hugs!!!!

    1. Hi Tonya! I never really knew him that well–and from what I did know about him, I was glad to know this story because it changed my thoughts in many ways. He had had 2 strokes when I was young, and I know that changed his personality, but Mom told me everyone called him “Doc” when he was growing up and the name stuck–because he was always taking care of injured animals. So many things we don’t know about our ancestors–made me wonder if he yearned to be a doctor but of course, money wasn’t there to go to medical school for him.

      Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  2. That was a wonderful story. I shall have to look for that anthology. Thanks for the amazing post.

    1. Debra, I know it was still available the last time I looked–I hated to see those ROCKING CHAIR READER collections go out of print–they had some wonderful stories in them from all over the country and were really well edited and put together. Hope you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  3. Oh my what a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it! It really hits home with me because our Christmases are a struggle. We all have so much to be thankful for and we just forget about that.

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for stopping by today. I remember how every year at Christmas, my mom would buy my dad a box of chocolate covered cherries. The first year or two that they were married, of course, money was sooooo scarce, and that was what he got for Christmas from her because of that. So every year from then on, she’d buy a box and wrap it up and put it under the tree–a remembrance of those very rough times. Those kinds of things mean more than expensive presents, I think. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. You’re right–we do have so much to be thankful for!

  4. This is a great story. It makes our struggles seem not near as bad as I thought they were. I also enjoyed learning how tinsel is really supposed to be hung. I think it really adds something special to a tree. But I quit using it a long time ago when I had an unfortunate incident with a cat who ate tinsel. Let’s just say the cat wasn’t happy when it came back out. Have a good Christmas!

    1. Oh, Janine, you are so right–cats and tinsel do not mix! LOL There is no way to keep them safe from it since they love to climb the tree (and knock it over!) I love tinsel, and this story is the reason why. Though I always hated the tediousness of having to be so very careful (under Mom’s watchful eye!) of putting it on and taking it off, I always loved how it looked, and I still do-though today it’s made of some kind of plastic stuff instead of the heavier aluminum of yesteryear.

      Hope your family has a wonderful Christmas! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Wow, what a beautiful memory! I adore tinsel on my trees. It reminds me of my childhood where we had to help take it all off, too.

    1. Susan, isn’t it strange how what we dreaded doing as a kid is now a treasured memory? LOL I love tinsel, too–and even though it’s not “the thing” anymore, I don’t care. My kids loved it growing up until they were in highschool and “no one does that anymore”–but we did! LOL Merry Christmas to you, and a very happy NEW YEAR!

  6. Thank you for sharing this great story. Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi Melanie! I’m so glad you enjoyed it–it means a lot to me in several ways–Mom used to love to talk about her growing up years–she had good memories in spite of the conditions of growing up so poor and doing without so many things. That’s always made me stop and think and given me a sense of contentment in my own life with a great many circumstances.

      Merry Christmas! Hope 2018 is one of the very best for you!

  7. I love your Christmas story, Cheryl! I can certainly imagine being so poor. We lived in a tent the first three or four years of my life. And I remember one Christmas we didn’t get anything but a stocking with an apple, an orange, and a few pieces of fruit in it. Times were really hard back then. Kids today can’t even imagine things like that.

    Merry Christmas, Filly sister!

    1. Hi Linda! Gosh, thanks so much for stopping by–I know you are busy as all get out right now with your newest Christmas anthology release! Mom told about how, growing up, getting an orange was a huge deal–so every year we got an orange, an apple, nuts and a few Hershey’s kisses in our stockings. Those nuts were a huge deal to us–I think it was the fact that we got to shell them that made them special. LOL We had some lean years too, but by the time I came along (I was the youngest) my parents were more established. But Mom often talked about how, when my oldest sister was born, they moved 9 times in the first 2 years of her life, and would have to send the baby bed on ahead so it would be waiting for them when they got there. You’re so right–kids can’t imagine those kinds of things at all.

      Merry Christmas, Linda! Much love, Filly Sis!

  8. That was so beautiful. If we let our imagination out to work more often, we can let our love shine through to those we love. Christmas can come from the our hearts and hands more than any store bought items.

    1. Kathleen, that is so very true. You know, I have kept every single ornament my kids ever made in school, etc. And I still have some my MOM kept of mine! That’s a lot of what goes on our tree every year. I get so emotional just thinking about the meanings behind the ornaments–ones my mom bought for me as I was growing up, or ones that I bought when Gary and I first married, the ornaments the kids made, etc. I’m not putting up a big tree this year, and I’m sure going to miss that part of it, but gifts are not important–it’s the memories and love that count.

      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Thanks so much for stopping by today!

  9. Just beautiful. And those were things that were appreciated more. Thank you for sharing that story. Happy Holidays.
    Carol Luciano

    1. Hi Carol! Thank you. Yes, you’re right–those things were so few and far between back then that everything like that was appreciated more. Today, we have a “throw-away” society–doesn’t work, just buy a new one. My parents kept everything. LOL They were not “hoarders” but they found all kinds of ingenious uses for things that a lot of younger people would just toss away. My sister and I laughed and shook our heads when we were going through their things after they passed. But even so, there were good memories in that experience and plenty of laughter. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Carol.

  10. Cheryl, my friend, what a great story! Thanks so much for sharing. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season. Big Texas hugs, Phyliss

    1. Phyliss! So good to see you, my Filly Sis! I know you’ve got your hands full right now–aren’t you going somewhere over the holidays? Thought I remembered you saying that. I’m looking forward to Christmas–I’m going to making fudge, but not cooking a huge meal. Hmmm…maybe we will just eat fudge? I don’t know! LOL Thanks so much for stopping by and reading and commenting. Here’s big OKIE hugs right back atcha! XOXO

  11. I remember carefully putting the tinsel away to save for the next year when I was a child.

    1. Denise, I suspect there are a lot of “us” out there, don’t you? LOL Thanks so much for stopping by. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  12. What a precious story, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing. I often wonder what would happen if all the “stuff” we take for granted just disappeared. Would enough of these stories have been told that we could remember how it’s done? I guess that’s why I write historicals. lol

    Merry Christmas!

  13. What a precious story, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing. I often wonder what would happen if all the “stuff” we take for granted just disappeared. Would enough of these stories have been told that we could remember how it’s done? I guess that’s why I write historicals. lol

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Tracy, thanks so much for stopping by today! I agree with you–so much “stuff” that we do take for granted could be cut back on, for sure–or disappear. That’s an interesting question–I do wonder if there are enough stories like this out there that could be compiled to make a “manual” to rely on. Now that’s an interesting promise! LOL MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  14. I loved that story from the ritual of trimming a tree to a father who went to the painstaking task for making tinsel from a battery. It really brought back to me the way my childhood family trimmed a tree with the tinsel, popcorn and cranberry garlands, and “flocking” the tree. It’s nothing like how my own family currently trims a tree! I do love to see tinsel shimmering but because I worry about my cat, we don’t use tinsel (I don’t even remember seeing it in stores lately). And your detail about the Bekins Moving box! We stored our Xmas decorations in the same box for generations and it finally fell apart under my watch! But hauling that box up every year was part of the ritual for me. There’s so much we take for granted is there? Tough times for many folks, and despite that there is the hope of making Xmas sparkle and shine and be an extraordinary day. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas.

  15. Aw, Patti, thanks so much for stopping by. I know everyone is so busy right now, but I love to take time out and remember Christmases past every day as Christmas approaches. You can buy tinsel at Walgreen’s, and I bet you can order it from Amazon. I had bought a couple of extra packages last year, but didn’t put up a big tree this year. :((( Too much going on and no help! LOL My trees never change. They’re all ornaments that have meaning and have been passed down or bought for my kids through the years. Once they get “settled” in their lives, I will be boxing up a lot of those and giving them to my son and daughter for their own trees in the future. Yes, tough times for so many and yet, Christmas is always the day that we all look forward to–if for no other reason than the “feeling” and memories we make. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  16. Thank you for such a lovely story, and also for your comments here below. I remember our family rituals with our Christmas tree more than any gifts I ever got. My mom grew up in depression Oklahoma so the tradition of oranges in stockings continued on to me throughout my life. And funny enough, my mom had a hankering for chocolate-covered cherries when she was pregnant with me, and then it became a Christmas tradition for her to get a box from my dad. The first Xmas after my dad passed away I continued the tradition of getting her the chocolate cherries and my mom was floored and delighted. She’s with me in spirit now every time I see boxes in the store at this time of year.

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Eliza, I always buy myself at least one box, usually more, and eat them. And I remember how much my dad loved those things. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

  17. Such wonderful memories!! Thank you for sharing

    1. Aw, you’re welcome, Deborah. Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. I appreciate you–know you’re busy. Hope your Christmas is WONDERFUL!

  18. Cheryl, thank you for the beautiful post!

    1. Caryl, it was my absolute pleasure. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment–I know this is a busy time of year for everyone. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  19. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memory. Tinsel was always a part of our trees and if I tried to hurry the decorating my Mom always noticed the “clumps” of icicles!
    Merry Christmas!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Connie, our moms must have been SISTERS, because my mom did the same thing–and she’d get so aggravated. “That looks like you just stood back and THREW it up there.” LOL (Well…because I did.) LOL Thanks so much for stopping by today, Connie! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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