Thursday, December 3, 2009

O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree!

Or: O tannenbaum! O tannenbaum!, to pay homage to our German ancestry.

My memory tells it thus:

When we were young children, the annual selection of the family Christmas tree was a simple process; we pestered Beloved Father and Sainted Mother about when would we get the tree, and about 2 weeks before Christmas we would pile into the Chevrolet (2 doors for 7 people!) for a trip to the tree farm. Actually, the tree farm was a lot at a corner sufficiently away from where we lived to seem like a trip to us. Beloved Father knew the owner of the lot, and his kids went to the same school we did; the lot's owner really did supply the trees from his family's tree farm.

While we would run up and down the rows of trees trying to pick out the "perfect" tree, Beloved Father would happily chat away with Mr Tree Farm before picking out the tree that he wanted. He always picked out a small Scotch Pine, complete with the requisite wooden "X" stand nailed into the bottom of the trunk. The tree would be roped to the roof of our car, and off home we would go.

Beloved Father further annoyed his brood by putting the tree in the basement for a week before Sainted Mother would allow us to get out the decorations and work our magic. The tree was always smaller than what we wanted, because Beloved Father would place it on a small table to raise it up off the floor, making it seem bigger than it really was. The younger we were the taller it seemed after it was set up. A white sheet would then be draped across the table and tree stand for that "snow" effect, as well as to hide the table.

Large colored bulbs would be strung on the boughs, and multitudes of ornaments would seemingly fill every open space, followed by a large dosing of icicles, or tinsel. A lit and decorated Christmas tree in an otherwise darkened room is still a stirring sight to me.

Eventually, modern technology invaded our lives, and Beloved Father and Sainted Mother went the artificial tree route for the remainder of their lives. It was still fun to decorate the tree, but the thrill of picking out a real tree was gone.

Fortunately for me, Wonderful Wife is not only a Christmas person, she favors a live tree in the family room. We also have 2 artificial trees in other rooms, but the live tree tradition still lives on in our home.

For many years our family has driven out into the country just outside of Granville, a quaint college town a fair distance away, and proceeds to Timbuk Tree Farm where we display our woodsmen skills by chopping down our tree. We make a day of it (several hours, anyway) with neices, nephews, and their children as well, everyone dressed for whatever the weather will bring. We have cut down trees in 70-degree temps, in freezing rain, inches of snow, and ground sloppy from cold rains. You can get out to the fields by walking or riding an old school bus or train car, both pulled by tractors. A platform is attached to the back of each for the erstwhile lumberjacks to pile their tress upon to be carried back to the lodge. There is a choice of Scotch Pine, Canaan Fir, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Concolor Fir, White Pine, Blue Spruce, and others, all variably priced.

After doing our Paul Bunyan impression, we enter the lodge to get our fill of snacks, visit with Mr and Mrs Santa Claus, take pictures, relax, and people watch.

All in all, a fun time is had by all, and new Christmas memories are made each year.


  1. I cannot wait until next Christmas when Miss Texas and I can join in on the festivities!

  2. I remember one year when you were 'interviewed' by the local news crew as you picked out your tree and you showed up on the telecast. You are still the only person I know, however that needs eye-bolts screwed into their walls to hold up a tree. Perhaps we should have paid a little more attention to Beloved Father when shimming the tree?

  3. I remember the year we tried to put the fake tree in the pole upside down - but Sainted Mother came home and caught us doing it. She made us take it out and start over, while she watched. She just didn't but that the ornaments would show off so much better if they were hanging into air, rather than against the branches. I still would like to try it - who's got the tree?
    We get a shorter tree due to the train table - only a six footer, even though I always try to sneak in a bigger one. Some years we get a larger tree, but we really like the train table. This year we might even decorate - last year was pretty sparse.

  4. It all comes down to geometry and physics; I may have passed geometry (skin of my teeth), but I was smart enough not to have attempted physics, so that is why the eye-bolt (only one) is necessary.

    Wonderful Daughter passed both with flying colors, so maybe I should make better use of her expertise. Handsome Son also did well with both, but he can't help put up a straight tree from Texas.

    We will be cutting it down today and putting it up this afternoon. Please join us; we can make you the Chief Engineer if you so desire. I'm just a worker bee.

  5. In addition to making the trip with Wonderful Daughter's family, I will be wearing Dearest Kelley's soccer goalie shirt and Handsome Son's Express hat, so our entire family will be represented at the Paul Bunyan activities today.

  6. Alas, this day I shall be doing what retailers do this time of year. We have put up our 10 footer with lights. We shall don the ornaments this weekend. It will be fun to see Ragin' Cage's reaction to his first Christmas tree.

  7. It was sunny and chilly, temps in the 30s today, but we had a wonderful time. The grandchildren had fun, sat on the laps of Santa and his Missus, and WGGS#1 was helpful with the tree and carrying stuff to the car. They both fell contentedly asleep on the journey home.

    We selected an 8-ft. Canaan Fir; it smells wonderful!

  8. What? No mention of bubble lights? No thoughts turned to the little metal sleigh riders and the puller of the sleigh? No mention of the instructions from Beloved Father as to how to put tinsel on the tree (a maddening process if there ever was one)? And, of course, later, no mention of name ornaments? And then that brings us to the arrival of the real Santa for many years in our home!

  9. There is mention of those things now, I see.

    This was never meant to be an all-inclusive retrospective. I was hoping others would chime in with their Christmas-lights-colored memories, just not in such a snarky tone!

  10. Snarky? Is that a real word?

    I remember Mom telling about Grandpa and his brother shooting the tails off the brand new bird ornaments Grandma had just bought - they were a bit lit and thought it was funny. However, Grandma was not amused! Mom said it took weeks before she would speak to him, she was so mad.
    I have the china bells, which this year are being restrung so they can hang on our tree.
    Are you referring to the year I fell on the window decoration that held all the name ornaments and broke a few of them? I replaced the, I did, I did , I did!