Christmas tree memories
Published 12:38 am Monday, December 25, 2006
It's Christmas Eve as you read this. And if my hunches come through, then I have less than 30 hours to enjoy my Christmas decorations. Things are so different now than they were in my younger days.
As I child, I can remember the search for the Christmas tree. It began a couple of months before Christmas. While gathering wood for the fireplace, we would always be scoping the woods for a good Christmas tree candidate.
Even though we were sweating buckets during those wood-gathering trips, we would see a pretty cedar tree and try to make a mark somehow, somewhere, that would remind us of the tree we could consider for the job in the corner of our living room.
Most of the time, though, we would either not be able to find that piece of string on a limb that we had left weeks before, or we'd forget exactly the route we had taken on our previous trip. And, because of that, the search would basically start all over again.
I can remember one year, that we still didn't have a tree and it was just four days before Christmas. Back then, you couldn't go to the local grocery or hardware store to buy a real tree - they just didn't do that then. We hadn't even heard of “tree farms” when I was a child.
At any rate, the year we thought we weren't going to have a tree was pretty tough. It didn't matter that we had lights on the eaves of the house, nor did it matter that we had that funny white stuff sprayed on every window of the house. The only thing that mattered to me as a child was that we didn't have a tree.
Seriously, where was Santa going to put the stuff? Not to be outdone, my father spent an entire day trudging through the woods to find some kind of tree. At this point I don't think he cared if it had 50 limbs or two. He was on a mission and almost any green piece of foliage that stood more than four-feet high was on the hit list.
He brought home a beautiful specimen. Yes, it had gorgeous limbs. They were full - not a bare spot to be seen anywhere. When Daddy brought the tree in the house it stood at least eight feet tall. Of course we had to cut off a few feet just to get it to stand in the tree stand. It didn't matter. It was still a beautiful tree.
We began the decorating process and what fun did we have. Daddy worked on the lights and got them all glowing again. All the little pinecone shaped ornaments came out of the box and were gingerly placed on the branches.
Then, out came the tinsel. Not the kind that you wind around the tree, but the kind that is placed one strand at a time. I think they were called icicles. For some reason, you just don't see that on trees anymore.
When all of the lights were burning, the pine cones and silver balls were hung and the icicles had been draped, then time came to place the star at the top of the tree.
When the beautifully shaped, full-branched tree was drug into the house, we all wondered why this specimen had escaped the axe of other tree-hunters. With the placing of the star, we came to realize why it had been overlooked by others.
No top. Well, it obviously had some sort of top since it didn't grow to the sky, but it didn't have the usual top you find on a tree. No slender center spine. No tendril standing stately to hold the star. Just a deep crevice where “the top” used to be.
Not totally devastated, but somewhat disappointed, we found a way to mount that star anyway. Taking a few steps away, we decided it was the most beautiful tree we had ever had in our home. What a joy.
As an adult decorating a Christmas tree of my own, I vowed I would always have the perfect tree. I didn't go hunting in the woods for my tree, but I did go hunting at the tree farm. I found a beautiful pine that had been sprayed to be a beautiful “natural” green and had been shaped throughout the year so that it stood in a perfect triangular shape. The very first thing I checked before asking the owner to chop it down for me was that it had a top.
After making that inspection, I was satisfied with my decision and put the tree in the car for the trip home.
Years later, you will find an artificial tree in my living room (and in my dining room) that has been decorated so beautifully you'd probably oohh and aahh if you saw it. I tired of the pine needles and the trek through the tree farms. I found a perfect tree that goes in and out of the box every year.
That's where the rub comes in - somewhat. For some reason my husband thinks that I put the tree up too early and he can't wait to take it down.
I'm sure at this moment, my husband is remembering where he put the tree box and the bin he puts the outside lights into each year at the end of the holiday. For him, when the last package is opened and the clutter of the gifts has been cleared away is the perfect time to disassemble the tree.
I've relented in years past and have seen the taking down of the tree sometime on December 26. This year, though, I need to put him off for a few days. I have some out-of-town relatives who won't be able to join us for the holidays until Dec. 29. I'm sure I'll be able to talk him into letting me keep it up until they can enjoy the day with us.
I hope that your lights are twinkling and your tinsel is shining no matter what kind of tree you have. Watch the glow of the lights tonight after everyone has gone to bed - it's an amazing sight.
Enjoy the holiday, and your tree, and may your childhood memories keep your dreams alive and help you create memories for your family. Merry Christmas.
Lisa Tindell is a news writer for The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.