From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Decking the Halls in Christian County

A sure sign of Christmas




Are there houses you watch at Christmas, to see if their traditional decorations will be on display again? The house in the photo above is such a place for me. I pass it frequently; it's along my usual route to Hopkinsville.

I've never met the people who live there. I think their name is Oatts, and I think they own the nice farmland that surrounds the house. But these ideas of mine aren't verified facts; they are merely my deductions from reading the local newspaper, hearing people talk, and so on.

Every Christmas for the past decade or so, a big John Deere tractor has been parked in the front yard of this house. Santa is in the driver's seat, and a Christmas tree and gift-wrapped boxes are lifted high in the loader bucket. It's fun to see this scene in the daytime, and it's even cooler to see it at night.

The Christmas tree is always a red-cedar. Red-cedars grow abundantly around here. I've always imagined that sometime each year, they spot a red-cedar on their farm that is just the right size and shape to be the next uplifted Christmas tree.

When I saw their Christmas tractor for the first time this year, I called Keely. "All's well in Christian County," I told her. "The tractor with the Christmas tree is in its rightful place." She knew exactly what I meant.

Update:
I had a nice e-mail today from Rose Tooley-Oatts. She is the wife of Malcolm Oatts, and they live in the house in the photo above. Their farm is called the "Four Mile Farm".

Miss Rose said that they have been doing their Christmas tractor since 1993. Sometimes they talk about scaling back on their outdoor decorations, but they hear so many nice comments every year that it's hard to quit.

When they first started decorating the tractor, the packages under the uplifted Christmas tree were cardboard boxes. They filled the boxes with rocks (to keep the wind from blowing them away), wrapped them with white butcher paper (for moisture resistance), and tied them with big red ribbons. Eventually, Miss Rose happened to find some lighted Christmas boxes, intended for outdoor display, to put under the tree.

Red-cedars have been harder to find around the farm in recent years, so they now use an artificial tree. (My eyes expected to see a red-cedar -- and saw one!)

4 comments:

pamela said...

I enjoy all of your information & beautiful pictures. I now live in Marshalltown, Iowa but was born & raised in St. Elmo, on Barkers Mill Road. My great, great grandfather was Josiah Carneal & his 3rd wife Lucy my great, great grandmother. I enjoy hearing about Hopkinsville, Clarksville, & all of the surrounding town & counties.
Thank you for all you do.!!!
Pamela Morris Siemsen

Genevieve said...

I'm so glad that you're enjoying the blog, Pamela. I think I had some correspondence a while back with one of your cousins who is doing research on the Carneal family. (If anyone does not recognize the name "Josiah Carneal", you can read a bit about him in this history of the Barker's Mill community. I photographed Carneal's Chapel and other landmarks of the West Fork last spring and summer. It's a truly beautiful part of the county.)

Anonymous said...

I think it's wonderful that your blog allowed you to get in touch with the people who owned the house and decorated the tractor.

Genevieve said...

My e-mail contains a surprise related to the blog, fairly often. It keeps life interesting. :)

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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