Carl’s family didn’t have any extra money to celebrate Christmas
in their usual way that year. There was no money to buy a tree, and
cedar trees did not grow freely around Tolono as they did on the hills
and scrub areas of Jasper County. Everything in Champaign County
is as flat as flat can be, and the prairies are treeless as far as the eye
can see, except where people plant trees around their houses, and
the rows of osage orange trees planted as fence rows and windbreaks.
Vena decided they were going to decorate a tree anyway. She went
searching and cut the largest dried weed she could find, six feet tall,
and brought it home. She and her little brothers and sisters turned it
into the Christmas tree for their house in 1930. The little ones were