“Sold Out!” -Mission Accomplished!

I remember a December many years ago, when my husband and I piled our bow saw into the back of the station wagon and headed up on the

White birch trees are plentiful on the farm.

White birch trees are plentiful on the farm.

farm where some white birch trees grew. Our mission was to fell a couple of them and trim off their branches. The purpose for this trip was to hopefully make some extra money for Christmas.

We didn’t know where we would sell the yule logs that we were about to make, but we felt confident that we could. I remember having complete records on this project, including how many we made and sold, but these have disappeared. I do remember that we went to a wholesaler to buy candles and that we trimmed the logs with fresh cedar and pine branches.

I’m getting ahead of myself somewhat here. It was a cold and snowy day when we felled the trees. We cut them into 16 inch logs and nailed two

This one was made to use in our home, 20 years later.

This one was made to use in our home, 20 years later.

five and a half inch feet on the bottom of each one. These were made by cutting smaller branches, down the middle, lengthwise. The logs were then taken into the shop for doing the tricky part, that of drilling the candle holes into the top. This would have been a simple project had my husband had the tools he has today. But he used a hand-held drill and he recalls that as the project ended, so did the life of his drill.

White birch yule logs are a tradition in many homes, even today. Some are burned in the fireplace just as it was done years ago. When

Burning of the yule log is an old custom still observed today.

Burning of the yule log is an old custom still observed today.

the fireplaces were open hearth it became a contest to see who could burn the largest log. The yule log was to burn all night and symbolized the coming of Christ, his birth, and that he is the light of the world.

As open hearth fireplaces began to disappear so did the custom of the burning the yule log and although some burn much smaller ones in today’s fireplaces, somehow the yule log has become a dessert. Haven’t I seen chocolate yule logs? Another way to make a dessert yule log is to bake a yellow cake, spread it with

Anyone for a piece of chocolate yule log?

Anyone for a piece of chocolate yule log?

frosting and roll it into a cylinder.

Well, getting back to the making of our white birch candle logs. They began to take form and looked lovely, so we thought this was the time to see if anyone else thought the same and would be willing to sell them for us. And, low and behold, after showing one to the manager of the Acme market (our biggest grocery store in town.) he said he’d put them out on display and see how they would sell. THEY ALL SOLD. I believe they sold for $3.00. And when the project ended, after making forty of them, we ended up with $80.00. We had three, small children to buy presents for and this amount was perfect.

Today, yule white birch logs with three candles, (looking very much like the ones we made) sell for nearly forty dollars each and yule white birch logs for burning in the fireplace, three of them tied together with a red

Today, this one costs $60.00.

Today, this one costs $60.00.

bow, costs $48.95. Maybe we should consider doing this again, on second thought, maybe not! 

You’re probably wondering just how long ago this was? It was in 1955 and we had only three children then, two more yet to come, but it was before Christmas Club money was reserved by our employer and gift money was scarce. That may have been when our Christmas was sparse, but we didn’t know it. Yes, we SOLD THEM ALL. Christmas Candle holder 8And it wasn’t until 1974 that Burl, my husband, made us one. It has graced the top of our fireplace every Christmas since. Christmas memories….. I’d like to hear yours.

Merry Christmas to You from Shirl at ShirlandYou.

Merry Christmas to You from Shirl at ShirlandYou.

16 thoughts on ““Sold Out!” -Mission Accomplished!

  1. Everyone seems to have their own family traditions at Christmastime. I enjoyed your story about the yule log and how you made them and earned money to buy Christmas presents for the children. When I was kid, my parents usually put up the tree on Christmas eve or just a few days before Christmas. My mother always served chips and dip, when we put up the tree. So every time I have chips and dip, I think about putting up the Christmas tree, when I with my siblings. .

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    • Christmas traditions are such fun. I like your mom’s idea of serving chips and dip. Keeping it simple makes for a lot less stress, yet some people enjoy quite a feast on Christmas Eve. Ours is on Christmas Day. Love hearing from you, Colleen. God bless you and yours, and have the merriest of Christmases..

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  2. Christmas Memories

    Loved your yule story. I made a similar one for use in a Girl Scout troop ceremony but I didn’t have beautiful birch wood.

    My early memories of Christmas are during the years of WWII. The tree was put up about a week or two before Christmas. My Mom made popcorn which my older brothers strung to make strands to decorate the tree. The tree lights were the little conically shaped series lights–if one light went out, the whole strand went out. The tin foil was shiny metal, not milar, and it was used from year to year. As ornaments were put on, Mom would tell stories about who they once belonged to or where they came from. As presents arrived in the mail or as family members got them ready the presents were put under the tree. We were told we could look at the packages and the “from/to” tags but we weren’t to touch the presents until Christmas morning when everyone was together. Lifting and shaking was not allowed.

    One of our Christmas decorations was a cardboard Santa Claus that was reinforced in back with wood stays and a wood joint at the waist. The smiling smoking red-suited fat man was about five feet tall and consisted of two pieces that required assembly with some wing nuts. A strut in the back made him free standing. When I was a toddler I remember sitting on the floor and talking to Santa about what I’d like for Christmas. [Twenty years later a coworker said he didn’t tell his kids about Santa because it is a false god. I believe my coworker had a good point.] As a preteen I enjoyed assembling and setting up Santa.

    A not so fond, but humorous in retrospect, memory is that my brother Bruce, seven years older than I, took me to a window one evening when I was three or four. He said, “Look Wade! There’s Santa and his sled in the sky being pulled by reindeer.” He pointed with his finger slowly moving and acted as if he saw them. I didn’t. He asked if I saw them there, right above the trees. I didn’t. He said something like, “Well if you can’t see him, I’m going to shoot him down.” He then pretended to have a rifle and made some gun-shot sounds. He said, “I got him; he’s going down. Sorry, but you won’t have any presents from Santa this year or ever again.” I went crying to Mom.

    Even after WW-II was over, toys were scarce because retooling from war to consumer goods emphasized important things. When I was about nine my siblings, brothers Bruce, Ed, and John, were 16, 21 and 23. They secretly got various old bicycle parts and constructed a bicycle sized for me. They bought a new, shiny, chrome handle bar, white handle grips with tassels, a new kick stand, new tubes and tires, and an “oogah” horn. I believe Ed was the master organizer and builder. Ed had the frame of the bike sand blasted and repainted with a metallic green paint at an auto body shop. The assembly of the bike was in a basement room that they forbad me from exploring. The result was a bike that looked new in all respects and completely surprised me on Christmas morning. I later learned that the one speed bike had a high gear ratio that allowed me to go super fast down hill and required me to walk it up steep grades.
    When I was perhaps eleven I was disappointed because I could see through the white tissue paper of a box that brother Bruce had wrapped for me. Bruce was home on leave from the Navy and told me he was excited because he’d gotten me something he thought I’d really like. The box was about two feet long, ten inches wide and 2 inches deep. Through the tissue I could make out a bow and arrow design. I thought, “What a joke! It’s a dinky child’s toy bow and arrow suitable for a five year old.” On Christmas morning I opened other more promising looking packages first. I delayed opening the “toy bow and arrow set” until Bruce urged me. When I moved the box towards me, I was immediately confused. It had too much mass to be a toy bow and arrow. When I opened the box I was amazed and delighted to find it was a 0.22-caliber, Crossman, Benjamin-pump, air rifle in two parts that when assembled was about four feet long. [Crossman’s trademark symbol then was a bow and arrow.] A very similar rifle, the Benjamin 392, is offered for sale on the Crossman website in 2013 for $170.

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    • Hi Wade: Thanks for sharing such wonderful Christmas memories. I love all the details you’ve included here. Sounds like your three brothers gave you the run-around. But now, they are delightful memories.The moral of your story is: “Don’t be too quick to judge an uninteresting looking package.”

      On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 12:35 PM, shirlandyou

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      • You extracted an excellent moral. I think it applies to people too. I wrote this about 40 years ago for a shy woman who became a life long friend of ours:

        High is Lois in my esteem.
        Though slow to know
        She proved the adage
        “Good things are worth waiting for.”

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      • How you writing must have encouraged Lois. I can see that life long friends are special to you, Wade. God bless and have a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate with friends and family.

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  3. Christmas Eve Service was a great time of celebration…when I was three yrs. old I sang…”Away in the Manger” at Maple Grove UMC. It was the first time I ever remember feeling fear. Every Christmas was special…but one in particular…we got to open Nanny’s gift on Christmas Eve…everyone got matching red PJ’s even the adults…mom…dad…Nanny…and Gram. We all went to bed early and fell asleep quickly so Santa could come and decorate the Christmas Tree. We always left him milk and homemade cookies. Dad would go down first and light the Christmas Tree…it was the first thing we saw besides the bright lights of dads 16mm home movies It was magical…Those home movies are a treasure…!! I believe in Santa Claus…like all things impossible and imaginable there are a great many things that only faith can help us to see…I love this…it gave me great hope in life when life didn’t have much hope to offer me. I am here today because of Gods great love for me…through the many ways He has shown His love for me…Merry Christmas…!!

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    • Hi Karen: I love your Christmas story and appreciate so much your testimony on God’s great love for you. I’m sure ShirlandYou readers will be blessed by what you have written. Merry Christmas to you and blessings throughout the New Year.

      On Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 12:16 PM, shirlandyou

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  4. That was so nice Shirley, a very Merry Christmas to you and Burl, you are two special people, I feel blessed to have worked with and for you for nearly 10 years I think!! Jean Hillard

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    • How nice hearing from you, Jean. You are among our special friends and we, too, remember the years working together as good ones. So glad you’re enjoying shirlandyou. I remember how much you like lots of gifts for Christmas. I hope you can’t see the floor under your tree for all the gifts under it. God bless and keep you.

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  5. I shared this story with a friend just a few days ago and it was received well. After that, while driving around, I saw some white birch and pine branches for sale outside a local store. It was arranged a little differently than yours but sure did remind me of your wonderful story. We will see you soon!

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    • How wonderful that this came about because of ShirlandYou and the fact that I shared our Christmas story. Now you’ve got one to share. Thanks for doing that. By the way, Ray, I wondered why you didn’t hike up on the farm to get those branches. 🙂 Christmas memories, they are fun.

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      • We used to cut and split firewood back when we heated with wood. Sometimes we would give away a load to others who couldn’t get out to cut it. We have a large walnut tree on our farm that will probably come down soon and I would like to make some neat things from the wood. Nothing planned yet but I am sure something will come to me over time. A friend at church has a saw mill and he will get the job of cutting it into boards for the future. To see some nice things another friend of ours makes from wood, click this link and click on “CNC Router work” and “Laser Engraver Work.” http://www.naylorcustomworks.com I love his work and I would guess you will too.

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      • I’m really impressed with your friend’s work. I have always loved hard woods. Cherry and walnut are my favorite. I believe we still have some walnut boards in our attic. Will look forward to seeing your projects.

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  6. We had a white birch Yule log at our house when I was a child. Was there as long as I can remember. I was born in 1954. Now, I’m wondering if, perhaps, that log was one that you and Burl made. I wouldn’t be at all surprised!

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