Author of award-winning Forgiving Effie Beck

Daddy’s Christmas Tree

This bust of Santa Claus is the creation of my sister, Cathy Casey Berger. She sculpted the face in clay, then added a lamb’s wool beard, a toy bag over his shoulder and a hood trimmed in mink fur taken from an old shawl purchased in a used clothing store.  She also creates full bodied Santas that stand 3-4 feet tall.  
A few weeks ago Andrea Downing asked me to participate in her Christmas Memory blog. She selected four or five writers who have an affinity for the American West and asked us to write about a Western Christmas Memory. I was honored to do so. Check it out: Memories of a Western Christmas. 

I submitted my childhood memory about selecting a Christmas tree to Andrea which she posted along with essays posted by Amy Hale Auker, Paty Jager, Rionna Morgan, and Eunice Boeve.

Christmas in South Central Texas, where I live, is rarely picture book perfect. Today it is near 80 degrees, overcast and so damp I can smell wet dirt from my high-up window. The trees are still green and wild lantana is blooming with total abandon. Christmas songs make me so sad that any joy I might have spills out the souls of my feet. (I’ll save the explanation for that fact for my memoir.)

So I have to look beyond TV commercials featuring snowy countrysides and roaring fireplaces, fully decorated Christmas trees surrounded by laughing children and instead “listen” for happiness and joy in my network of women friends. They are my touchstones, my anchor to all these essential. My women friends in turn, listen to me without judgement, offer a different view of what I might be experiencing, belly laugh at my corny jokes, understand my short comings and like me in spite of them. “Women friends” includes my two sisters, who survived impossible childhood circumstances with me. My sisters and I realize that by sharing what we saw, heard and experienced “way back then,” we can have a more accurate answer to why things were the way they were. I have long since known that my view was tinted by my age and birth order.

Now, it is as if I have the wisdom of three sisters and the insight of hundreds of women I call Friend.

All this is to say that Christmases past were sometimes painful and that has carried over into my adult life. Still, through the generous love and acceptance of my friends and sisters, I appreciate what Christmas represents. It is love and hope that endure through understanding. It is the offer of a kind shoulder to lean on every now and then. Both are gift enough for me any day.

Blessing to all of you and may you have the happiest of all holiday seasons this year – no matter where your journey takes you.


PS: Be sure to look up Andrea’s book, Loveland. It is a historical western romance, now available in paperback from the Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Besos all.


  1. Helen Ginger

    Ahh, Karen, I can so associate with your look back into the past. It's like my viewpoint has changed and I can see things so differently now than I did when I lived those times. I'm much less judgmental and can understand more of what was going on around me rather than just what was brewing inside me.

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