Every Christmas, from the time I was three until I was ten, my family would drive in a stream of cars to Kilgore, where, during the Depression and a very big oil boom, oil wells had been drilled downtown. Hundreds of derricks on street corners and next to office buildings would be decorated with colored lights. One year—I couldn’t have been more than five—we had only enough money to make the bills, so on the drive home, we stopped in the woods to cut down a Christmas tree. When we got home, we found a bird’s nest with four eggs in the tree, and I wept that we had stolen a mama bird’s eggs. My mother put the eggs outside for the mother bird to find (she must have actually dispensed with them), and to my way of thinking, the mother bird came back for them. It became a tradition for us to place a bird’s nest in our Christmas tree every year.

Actress Sandy Duncan was born in Henderson and grew up in Overton and New London. She’s currently starring in That’s Christmas! Chicago’s Merry Musical, which runs through January 5 at Chicago’s Shubert Theatre.