Updated: May 5, 2019
Broomstick Christmas Tree
by Linda Delahay
My earliest memory of Christmas was at the age of 5. We were a family of six and were living in the suburbs of Montreal in the late 1950s. My parents had moved us there from Nova Scotia and found it to be quite different coming from a small French Acadian village to a big city. Dad was working at a box factory making $22 a week. With a Grade 5 education it was hard to find a good paying job. So there was no room for luxuries. I was told later in life that my parents would sometime go without supper in order to feed us kids. Dad’s sense of humour and Mom’s nurturing loving ways were strongly apparent, as we never felt hard done by.
"There was always love and laughter in our house."
When Christmas came Dad had to be inventive. We didn’t own a car so cutting down or better yet buying a Christmas tree was out of the question, so Dad made us a tree. He painted an old broomstick green, drilled angled holes and stuck fallen branches from a fir tree to create our table top Broomstick Christmas Tree. Presents under the tree were provided by the company Dad worked for. Asked of him how many children, if they were boys or girls. My three brothers and I got one gift under the “Broomstick Christmas Tree “. I’ll never forget the beautiful musical carousel I received that Christmas morning and the love and warmth I felt from my family.
The years we lived in Montreal, we would have the Broomstick Christmas Tree every year. Dad got an opportunity for a better job and life for us in Maine, so the six of us packed up took the train to the Vermont border, and made our way to my Aunt’s house in Maine. She was our sponsor for one year. And at Christmas we all went into the woods and cut down a beautiful fir tree to decorate for Christmas.
We moved lots after that first year, from Maine to New Hampshire and then finally settled in Massachusetts. There we lived for 13 years until Dad took ill and became a paraplegic. Unfortunately he had just started working for a construction company as a painter but didn’t work there long enough for insurance coverage. That’s when most of us moved back to Nova Scotia. Back into our Acadian village with land and family and friends.
Hard times came back into our lives again. My brother and I trapped Rabbits on our property so Mom would made rabbit stew, and an Acadian dish we grew up on, Rappi Pie.
Come Christmas time we needed to be inventive again. I learned how to skin the rabbits and treat the hide, so for our first Christmas I made good luck Rabbit foot keychains and pelts for gifts.
And every year we would have an actual tree in our living room, but with fond memories we would always
acknowledge our beautiful Broomstick Christmas Tree.