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  • Family Traditions Burn Brightly With The Lighting of the Christmas Tree
    Italian Memories

    by Cookie Curci

    As a senior citizen who is a lifelong resident of my hometown community of Willow Glen, I've seen a lot of changes over the years. The one change I've noticed most this year is the scarcity of Christmas tree lots. Today, most folks just pick up a tree at the local pharmacy, department or grocery store. Things were different when I was a kid. You couldn't throw a stone this time of year without it landing near a vacant lot that had been converted for the holidays into a forest of freshly cut pines, green trees in all sizes, shapes and heights, sold in a variety of prices from 50 cents to 75 cents a foot.

    Even if the plastic tree hadn't come along, I doubt the freshly cut pine would have much of a chance finding a vacant lot to be sold in these days.

    In the 1940s and 50s, just about every Willow Glen neighborhood had a vacant lot near by where kids played baseball, tag, raced, climbed trees or just hung out. Those lots have all been filled now with housing and even if there was a vacant lot to be found, lawsuits would prevent any kid from playing in one.

    Yes, things have changed since I was a kid. The best part of the holiday was shopping for the Christmas tree. It was a cherished family ritual the trekking through those little forests of green trees in search of the perfect tree. The tree lot had a magic all its own, the smell of fire wood and the warm glow of fires burning in those big tin trash cans to bring heat to patrons and salesman, the twinkle of colored lights strung high overhead, the wonderful smell of freshly cut pine and the soft crunch of sawdust beneath our shoes on a chilly Willow Glen night... all indelible memories.

    Like most people, I have to admit I have a plastic tree that I set up year after year. It's easier then hauling one home from the local drug store.

    But no matter how we celebrate the season with a fake silver tip, a white aluminum tree, or a freshly cut evergreen, the important thing is the continuing of our beliefs and traditions.

    Each year the Christmas tree, like the holiday season, brings us the joy of renewal and hope for the future. And even though we don't live at the North Pole, drive a sleigh or twinkle with stardust, we still manage to create a little holiday magic right here at home with the lighting of the family Christmas tree.

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