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Making Christmas memories the hard way

Published Caption: Caryn Haller

While we all spend so much time trying to make Christmas memorable with the elaborate decorations, perfect gifts and fancy food, sometimes it’s the little disasters that make for the most lasting memories and life lessons.

Last year, a friend of ours raised turkeys and gave us one for Christmas. My husband spent the Saturday before helping him slaughter it and pluck all the feathers. I had never had such a fresh turkey, and was excited to eat it.

My husband woke up at 2 a.m. Christmas to get the main course on the smoker in time for dinner. As my son and I slept, he stayed up tending to the smoker, adding wood chips and charcoal and making sure it didn’t run out of water.



After we all awoke and opened presents, we let the dog out to run around. I noticed he kept sniffing at the smoker, but thought to myself, “He won’t knock it over, it’s too hot.”

I was very wrong. At around 10 a.m., we heard a crash from outside. We ran to the door to find Pepsi, enjoying our turkey dinner. We were speechless, and the look on my husband’s face was one I had never seen in 16 years of marriage. Let’s just say, he showed great restraint in not taking Pepsi to the animal shelter. After awhile, my husband calmed down and we ended up having a wonderful ham for dinner. It took a month or so, but my husband can finally laugh when he looks back on that day. We also learned a valuable lesson — to keep the dog inside the next time we smoke a turkey.



This year, we learned another valuable lesson and created another Christmas memory.

Our family went to a tree lot and bought the perfect little 5-foot Douglas fir to be the centerpiece of the living room. As my son and I were wrapping the lights around it, I noticed it was a little shaky. My husband promptly tightened the bolts at the bottom of the stand and we carried on.

We dug through the boxes and pulled out all our special ornaments and placed them on just the right branches and finally topped it off with a new star that glowed red and green and blue. It was perfect.

About an hour later, we were watching TV and timber, the tree toppled over. Luckily, only a few glass bulbs broke, and none of the priceless ones. We ended up having to take all the ornaments off the tree and tote it back outside until I could buy a new stand the next day. After decorating the tree for the second time, it was still beautiful.

The lesson we learned — if you think you have a bad tree stand, you probably do.

As for next year, I’m a little apprehensive about what lesson we will learn, but I’m also looking forward to the memory it will create.

Merry Christmas, Carson Valley.

Caryn Haller is content coordinator for The Record-Courier. Reach her at 782-5121 ext. 26.