Sheda contributed this column to The News-Herald reminiscing about his hometown and family at Christmas.
•Growing up in the 50’s & 60’s in the small town of Chelsea, my folks owned the local grocery store. And every Christmas, it was always an exciting time—the selling of Christmas trees at Sheda’s Grocery Store in Chelsea. I think I was about nine or ten at the time and Christmas was so exciting (still is in fact).
My friends and I would play all kinds of games, (Hide & Seek, Tag, etc), running in and out of the trees we had for sale. We had tons of them and Dad & Mom began selling them the day after Thanksgiving. And one by one they would be sold. But I had already picked out the one I wanted for us!!
But, here’s the “kicker.” Even though I picked it out, it never actually made it to the house.....just in case someone wanted to buy it. And of course, someone always wanted to buy it. So I would pick out another nice one. And it would get sold also.
Well, this went on and on and on. Until around December 21st or so...when finally the next to last tree had been sold.
Ya, the next to last tree. Because, the very last tree was “saved” for us!! Saved is not a real great word here since it was the last tree out of probably 75 trees that was not purchased by the wonderful citizens of Chelsea, Iowa. Which meant of course, that it was not the most popular or prettiest tree. Nope! Not even close.
There it was. Standing all alone now. All the other trees are gone. One by one, each had been chosen and purchased and now were beautifully gracing the living rooms of all my friends. And there was our tree. A little small. A little scrawny. Some branches gone. Squished from being beneath all the others for almost a month. And Dad would proudly bring it in and we would decorate it with our old lights, ornaments and that silver tinsel. And the final touch would be to put the Angel on top, which was usually too heavy for the tiny tree and make the top lean a little. And there we stood looking at this tree. In all its’, ahh, beauty and glory.
To be honest with you, I was so embarrased by it that I didn’t want my friends to even come over to the house to see it. It was the ugliest tree, after all it was the last one of seventy-five, you would ever see.
Well, its’ been a lot of years since then. Sheda’s Grocery Store is long gone as are Mom and Dad. And I think back and get a little misty eyed. And sometimes if I close my eyes real tight, I can see Dad bringing that last tree in to be decorated with the old box of decorations Mom brought in from the closet. And now I think, it may have been the most beautiful tree I have ever seen. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. And Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope your memories are as good as mine.
Pastor John Sheda