Back in the day at the Parker house, we never set up or decorated the Christmas tree or hung a stocking until Dec. 15.
That was my mom’s rule for the Christmas holiday. Sounds kind of silly these days with folks setting up their family Christmas tree before Halloween.
When Dec. 15 rolled around, Dad would climb into the garage attic and hand down the boxes of decorations before spending the afternoon stringing the lights around the front of our home.
We always had a fresh cut tree in our home and most years, we purchased it at a tree lot at 41st and Harvard in Tulsa. I looked forward to helping my family find a Christmas tree each year. Back in the day, we could get a nice 5 – 6 foot Douglass Fir tree for $20 or less.
I remember one year, we bought a tree in early December. I don’t know the reason, but my dad tied it to the clothesline pole so it would be standing up straight. It remained in the backyard until Dec. 15.
Another year, we bought some Christmas presents early around Thanksgiving. I was so excited as I got my mom an electric bacon cooker with my own money. I took it home, wrapped it and stored it under my bed until Dec. 15, then placed it under the tree.
I was usually the one in charge of decorating the Christmas tree each year. Our family decorations included a manger with Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, the three Wisemen, animals, the Shepard boy and an angel. I still have the manger, which is in rough shape, and the figurines, which show lots of wear as well.
My mom bought them all at TG&Y Five and Dime store in Tulsa. I think she gave a $1 for the manger and not much more for the each of the figurines. My hope is to find someone who can make me a new manger using the old one as a pattern.
At the writing of this column, Debbie and I have yet to set up our tree. We usually have it set up by Thanksgiving, but it’s been busier than usual of late. Plus, our nephew always helps and he’s been quite busy with college and other duties.
However, we have already started buying Christmas presents and made lists that have been passed around to other family members. We also drew names at Thanksgiving and will get one person in the family an additional gift or two with a value of around $25.
When I was growing up, there were catalog sales at Sears and JC Penneys and lay-away, but no Internet or buying on-line. Our family always went shopping at the mall or a discount store and that was always fun.
I try to purchase some gifts locally, but most years, I buy a handful of gifts on-line. Debbie buys my gifts and then helps her mother and family buy gifts.
We do like to visit the Brass Armadillo before Christmas to buy each other an antique gift or two. There’s a nice antique store in Story City called Antiques Iowa that we have visited three times. Each time we brought home some goodies. Antiques are unique gifts and in my mind, much more personal than a toaster or jumper cables.
We sometimes buy gifts on eBay at Christmas and throughout the year. As with any on-line retailer, it’s good to check out the seller, look at the reviews and make sure they are legit.
Debbie stays away from sellers with a rating less than 98 percent positive. That usually indicates issues in the past. If they’ve sold 100, 300 or even 500 items and have a lower than 98 percent rating, that’s not good. I’d suggest you look elsewhere for that item.
A few years back, I was watching an episode of American Pickers. The boys were in Arkansas and bought a Will Rogers Clock made in the 1940s by the United Clock Company in Chicago.
I went to Tulsa Will Rogers High School, so I wanted a clock like that. I called the American Pickers Nashville store and they quoted me a price of $300, which was a little out of my budget.
Debbie looked on eBay and found the clock from a seller in New York. Unfortunately, the seller didn’t do a good job packaging the clock and it arrived at our house broken. We ended up losing money on it as we had to pay $30 shipping to return it, even though it was broken. I reported the seller to eBay, but still had to pay.
We later found the same clock from a seller in Ohio and it came well wrapped and in fine shape.
It’s a benefit to find sellers who offer return shipping and also get additional insurance, when possible. If you have questions about shipping costs or about a product you are interested in, send the seller a question. Most sellers have a place you can write them. And if they are legit, they will respond quickly and professionally.
If you’ve had a good experience, give the seller a good review. It’s helps others buying from them down the road.
The same goes for buying from independent dealers on Wal-Mart, Target or Esty. Make sure what they have is legit and that they have positive feedback. It will save you a lot of headache down the road. And keep an eye on your credit card for fraudulent charges.
It would be nice to go back to the days of buying at stores and malls, but that is probably a few years away from happening. Vinyl records are making a comeback, so one never knows.
If you have a chance this year, try to get at least one gift from a local retailer, even if you buy it on-line, and show your support for small-town communities and mom and pop businesses.
And handmade items such as a quilt or sweater always make great gifts. Check out the local quilt or gift store for unique one-of-a-kind gifts.
Always remember that the best Christmas gift is doing good for others, giving more than you receive and spending time with family and friends. And if you get a chance, buy a sack of groceries and some gifts for a family in need. It’s a gift that will keep on giving.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day.