After the terrible war ended, the little girl went back to the mountains of North Carolina with her mama and daddy to spend the next two Christmases with uncles and aunts and a cousin nearby.
Christmas of 1947 found the young couple moving to Tennessee to live in a mansion--the two bedroom, one bath, newly built cottage was a mansion to the husband and his wife, their little girl and her baby sister. On each Christmas thereafter the little cottage held the freshest, largest Christmas tree that would fit in the corner of the living room because the girls' daddy had a magical job. Eleven months of the year he was an average American man working for the Kroger company buying produce for stores in their city. But come December he turned into Mr. Christmas Tree and met the railroad cars that traveled from as far away as Canada to bring Christmas trees to the Kroger grocery stores.
At first there were the two little girls to help decorate the Christmas tree, the older one with brown curly hair and the younger one with brown wavy hair. Always their were aunts and uncles and cousins around.
Then came the Christmas that there was a third little daughter, this one with blonde hair, and the year after that she was old enough to help her sisters decorate the Christmas tree, or the lower branches anyway. Santa Claus must have brought her a baby doll, probably a girl baby doll, not a boy doll named Joe like her oldest sister had asked Santa to bring.
The three little girls grew and the Christmas trees grew with them, as large as the living room would hold, finally in a new house with three bedrooms and a bath and a half. No longer did uncles have to sleep in the bathtub. But one wonderful uncle came the week before Christmas each year and took the three sisters away in his magic sleigh to visit another uncle and aunt for three magical days of cookie baking and crafts and spoiling by the two uncles and a darling, darling aunt. One year the magic sleigh was a small airplane that hurt the sisters' ears, but most of the time it was a magic train that chugged out of Union Station with the sisters and their uncle aboard, laden with wrapped packages.
Then came the year that a fourth child was born......a daughter, a second blonde just a few weeks old at Christmas. The next Christmas it was her turn to get a baby doll and see the biggest, freshest Christmas tree ever.
Four daughters! What's a father to do? Pretty soon it would become time to begin saying his goodbyes to daughters and welcoming sons-in-law, or at least to become resigned to them.
One thing the father could do was begin a new career. He could stop buying Christmas trees for the Kroger Company and begin buying them for his own garden center. Eleven months of the year he was an average American man who sold bushes and trees and mulch and fertilizer. But, oh, in the month of December he became once again Mr. Christmas Tree. This time customers not only had the choice of every green Christmas tree from Canadian balsams to Scotch pines and white pines (North Carolina Frazier Firs did not come unto later years), but they also had a choice of a fairyland of breathtaking snow-flocked Christmas trees.
A new grove of white Christmas trees appeared magically every morning, having been created by a master's touch during the night.
Ladies-in-Waiting throughout the kingdom brought their lights in for the tree of their choice, to be put on before the magician snow brushed the Christmas trees in white--blue lights, white lights, colored lights.
Tall threes, short trees, skinny trees, fat trees.
Snow-covered trees for everyone except for the four sisters. They were their father's daughters. They loved for their Christmas trees to be as green as the field from which they were cut. But, oh, the wonder of visiting and playing in the garden center full of lovely sparkly Christmas trees.
And that first son-in-law welcomed into the family of four daughters? He was busy learning to flock Christmas trees, learning it from the artist's hand.
To be continued.
Have a very merry December!