One of my favorite memories of Christmas from childhood is the whole Christmas tree tradition. My family would go out to the nearest tree lot that had sprung up just before Thanksgiving and search for the best tree there.
Of course, what was "best" was strictly in the eye of the beholder. My father always wanted a Douglas Fir, because that’s what he grew up on. Mom was certain, however, that Scotch Pines were better because the needles wouldn’t fall off and jam up her vacuum cleaner. All we kids cared about was size. We wanted BIG. Give it to us fat and tall and BIG! Our parents would take time out from their "discussions" to tell us that what looked medium-sized under the cold white sky would be gigantic in our suburban house.
The tree selected, a gruff man in a fur hat and thin coat would tie the chosen one onto the roof of our car, like a deer, and send us on our way. At home, as mom and dad struggled to get the monstrous tree into its teeny tiny tippy stand, we kids would all agree that it sure was bigger at home than outside. And oh, the fragrance of pine! Lovely!
Before we could set upon it with ornaments and icicles, my dad had to do the lights, which meant the cursing commenced with great enthusiasm. I can sympathize. There was the universal problem of tangled light strings, plus back then if one light was out the whole string was out. It took an engineering genius to get a string of those lights going.
But the end result was magical. Whether it was dropping needles from the get-go, lopsided or had a huge empty spot right in the middle, we would always declare it to be, "Our most beautiful Christmas tree ever."
But those were the olden days.
Today, due to the husband’s asthma and his conscientious objector attitude toward the cutting down of poor little pine trees only to make vain use of them for a month and then banish them to a land fill (gasp of air), we have a fake tree at our house. The traditions are a bit different.
My daughters’ view of the acquisition of Christmas trees is we go down into the basement, blow kitty litter dust off the 6-foot-long box, and drag it up the stairs, one or two hunks at a time. It’s much lighter to put it into the holder and probably quite a bit safer. But the fragrance is not quite the same – Eau de sump-pump?
I try not to swear as much as my father did when I get the old lights organized, but sometimes genetics take over.
I sometimes wonder if my poor girls suffer from my inability to get organized and make it an all-inclusive Christmas Tree Day as my parents had. Around my house, with an arguably ADD mom in charge, it’s more like Christmas Tree Week. Getting the tree parts upstairs is one day, braving the light string bin and then getting a sufficient number working is a few more. Let’s just say that putting the whole thing together is a process.
Maybe for the girls it’s a more fun this way. Why get it all over in one afternoon? Drag the excitement on for a week before that moment when we all get to stand back, admire the lights, the perfect "fake tree" shape and the ornaments we’ve acquired together over the years, and declare it to be, "Our most beautiful Christmas tree ever!"