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South Texas Living

Remembering the beauty, joy of our Christmas trees

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
December 26, 2012 | 1,837 views | Post a comment

When I was growing up we always had a Christmas tree in our home at Christmas time, up until the time I got married. After Letty was born, while Henry was away, we spent her first two Christmases at my parents’ home where we were staying -- and there was a tree.

After Henry came back in January of 1955, we moved in with his brother Eligio and his wife Elia and their little son Roland into a house owned by her sister and her family. We lived there about five months and then we had to move because the family was moving back to Floresville. We moved, again the two couples and two young children, to a rent house owned by Mr. Ernest Tyson on A Street. Then in August of that same year, we had the opportunity to buy a piece of property with a small house on what is now Plum Street. It was smaller than the other two houses we had shared, but again Eligio and Elia moved in with us. I have written about that little house before, with no indoor plumbing except for running water in the kitchen. Henry and I had two rooms. Eligio and Elia had one room; and we shared the kitchen and dining area. Early that December Elia went to the hospital and delivered her second son. The next day I went and gave birth to our first son. There was no room for a Christmas tree that year. Soon after that, Eligio and Elia moved out. It had gotten a little too crowded. Now we could have the room they had been using and use it as a living room, which it was meant to be. From then on we set up a tree every year. Sometimes they were small and sat on a little table where the youngest ones couldn’t knock it down or pull ornaments off. Then we moved into our much larger remodeled home. And the babies kept coming. Some of them were more adventurous than others; so depending on the child we either put up a big tree or a small one.

Then there was the era of the aluminum tree. Henry went and bought one without telling me first. Oh, it was pretty, when viewed from outside through the picture window, with the lights changing colors. But on the inside, no teniá chiste. It had no appeal. We used it one more year and then I donated it to one of the classes at Sacred Heart School.

Now the kids were grown, for the most part, so we put up big trees. The kids did most of the decorating. We couldn’t get very tall ones because our house had low ceilings. And Henry would start trimming it to set it on his homemade wooden stand. Sometimes the tree lost about a foot in height. I always liked the Douglas fir. The branches were separated and there was more room for ornaments. The kids would call them our Charlie Brown trees.

When Louie and Liberty started having their own brood, Louie would go buy the tall bushy kind. I think they’re the Scotch pine. Sometimes he would buy one for us too. I didn’t want to make him feel bad so I never told him that I didn’t like them as much because they were hard to decorate. You can only hang ornaments on the outside.

Even after Henry, Frank, and I moved into our mobile home, I continued to put up a tree. The ceilings are high and I even bought a 7-foot tree. But by now I had fallen into the trend of artificial trees. I had never had carpet on the floors at the other house and I didn’t want dry pine needles on the carpet in our new home. A few years later I started downsizing. Now Henry and I were by ourselves and I found it harder to decorate the tree. The hardest part was stringing the lights around the tree. I bought a 4-foot pre-lit tree, which I used for two years. Then last year I decided not to put it up, so I passed it along. DeeDee gave me a 15-inch little tree with tiny decorations and I put it on the table in a corner of the living room. And I set up my Nativity scene. Always I set up a Nativity set. So that’s what I did again this year. We also used to put up lights around the house. This year the only lights come from the beautiful star that Lia and Gilbert gave us. Leonard hung it on the cross in front of our house. It looks beautiful, and it means more to me than any other lights we could put up. It reminds us of the star that the Magi followed to find the Christ child.

It does make me feel just a little sad that I can’t do what I used to do. But I thank the good Lord for all the years that I was able to bring joy to our kids and grandkids. And I have my memories.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry. Her email is

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