If you love fir, choose Balsam or Noble, Douglas or Fraser;
Or try Virginia, or Scotch or White for a pine;
Choose a spruce if you hanker for Norway or Colorado;
But if you want a true Kansas tree, take mine –
The Eastern Red Cedar, the noblest and grandest of all.
Sitting around the Christmas tree on Christmas Day, each of us shared favorite a Christmas. Along with stories of gifts and people, were descriptions of trees and the decorations we once made.
Those old enough recalled strings of cranberry and popcorn that graced the boughs of evergreen. Instead of store bought ornaments, the children would gather round the kitchen table and make ornaments of tin foil in all sorts of shapes. If your family was Swedish, then the ornaments were fashioned with straw and corn husks. If your family lived on the prairie, with not much to be had, at least ma and pa could always find nuts to place in a paper bag with chocolates of filled cream. And always on top of the tree was a star, that the littlest one placed with a hoist from dad.
Every family has its own Christmas tradition and they do not seem to change much. Take the story by Julia (Conine) Bunton who was born in Iowa in 1862 and came to Barber County in the 1870’s where she married Clark Bunton. Their marriage was the first recorded in Kiowa.
She recalled, Kiowa’s first real Christmas, celebrated with an Eastern Red Cedar tree in the Kiowa community center, an event to which cowboys rode miles to attend:
“Some one brought in [the community center] a huge cedar tree, set it on the floor and nailed the top to the ceiling. A nice big star was made out of heavy paper and covered with tin foil of tobacco and placed high on the tree with one lone candle. As there was nothing more with which to trim the tree, Kiowans hung presents on its branches–brightly colored silk handkerchiefs, shiny knives and candy. They certainly made a fine showing.”
Read also Kansas Heritage.