Christmas Memories: The Tree
It really isn’t Christmas until the tree is up. It’s a very important part of the whole holiday celebration. Or maybe that’s just for me. I have a theory about that, actually, but we’ll get there in good time. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Christmas tree has always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It was always the big decoration in my family’s house and aside from the cookies, which are, naturally, the most important activity undertaken during the season, was the most Christmasy of Christmas things that we did.
When I was growing up we got real trees. I don’t mean to say it the way a 70-year-old says “When I was growing up we had real trucks” or “real music,” or what have you. I mean we literally got a real, once living, tree that grew in the woods somewhere before being chopped down. Okay, so they grew on Christmas tree farms, but it’s basically the same thing. Anyway, that was one of my favorite things as a kid; going out to get the tree. We would have to wait until a week or two before Christmas to actually get the tree, though, seeing as, you know, it was dying and all. But that made it all the more exciting, I think. Not the dying part, the waiting. We knew Christmas was close when we went to pick out a tree.
Sometimes we would go out and cut it down ourselves. And by that, of course, I mean my dead would cut it down and we would dance around in the snow. Those were the best years. It’s easier to pick a tree, for one thing, when you can see what it looks like all full and healthy. It’s also more fun when you have a whole tree farm to run around and rows and rows of trees to pick from: big ones, small ones, ones as big as your head. Wait, sorry, wrong song. Anyway, for a nine-year-old, it doesn’t get much better than that. And when we found one we liked that would fit in our living room, dad would take the saw to it and cut it down for us to take home. Seriously, how cool is that?
But of course, it wasn’t every year. There were years when we would just go over to Home Depot and grab a tree. Still exciting, as it is a tree we’re bringing home, but more work on Dad’s end. He is the one with the trained eye, after all. He had to examine each tree we picked for bald spots and so on. It’s much harder to tell when the tree has been folded up. It might unfold to be super ugly if you’re not careful. But even years when we didn’t go cut down our own tree, it was still super exciting to finally be getting a Christmas tree.
Here we finally come to why. Why I love the Christmas tree so much. It’s the decorating. You see, growing up we always got an ornament for Christmas every year. My mom bought us a new one to put on the tree in a theme for the most part. My brother got reindeer, I got angels, and my sister got… whatever she wanted. She didn’t so much have a theme, actually. She got Tweety bird for a while, and lambs, originally, I think, but it’s not super easy to find lamb ornaments, I guess. So, having received an ornament a year for our entire lives, we each had a box full of ornaments to put on the tree. That’s why decorating the tree is one of my favorite parts of Christmas; I get to pull out memories with each ornament. I get to decorate my tree with love, and remember putting each angel on another tree some other year when I was back home.
My husband and I have a fake tree, pre-lit. My parents also have a fake tree now that sits on the coffee table so they don’t have to worry about clearing space for it. It was a little disappointing, I won’t lie, when they got the fake tree. It was like being told you’re too old for trick-or-treating, (which, by the way, is not a thing). You suddenly realize that you’ve out grown your childhood. But, I have to say, I don’t mind the not-real-tree as much as I thought I would. In fact, in some ways, it’s pretty nice. We don’t have to fuss with the lights, which is cool, and I can bend the branches to my will so that my ornaments don’t end up on the floor.
Fake tree or real, there are somethings that you just don’t give up. Like listening to Christmas music while putting up the tree. Here is where my husband is basically the best. Not only did he put up with listening to the Christmas music, (which he’s super not a fan of) he also made me hot chocolate while we decorated. He’s basically the coolest husband ever. I feel a little bad that the whole tree is covered in angels, and a couple random ornaments made in childhood, but only a little. I got purple and silver bulbs to break them up a little, last year. And, of course, I’ll be rearranging them until the day we pack it all away again, as I may or may not have just down, but I kind of love them. I feel like I’d like to do silver tinsel, maybe, but I’m also not convinced there’s room for all the ornaments and tinsel. Maybe next year I’ll give it a try. We’ll see.
Next year will be interesting, as we’ll have two tiny cats who will probably want to be in the tree the whole time it’s up. My parents had that issue last year with a certain fluffy cat who thought the tree was a good place to lay. Many bent branches and bald spots were the result and several very cute pictures. I will just have to remember not to put anything fragile down low where they can play with it. Perhaps I’ll get special ornaments specifically for the bottom of the tree. I have some plastic ones left over from my tinsel bowl that might work. It’ll be an adventures, for sure. Some cats just really like trees. I feel a little bit bad for my in-laws who will have to deal with them this year. That will be interesting.
On top of our tree is a golden angel. I kind of question now, actually, the gold color, but that was all I could find, so it’s probably fine. I don’t think the gold/silver jewelry rule counts for Christmas trees. Growing up we always had a star: one that lit-up and blinked and stuff. It was a good time. Even if we had a light-up star, I’m not sure how we would plug it in. I have mixed feelings. The star always seemed like a big deal, and my angel is a little underwhelming, if appropriate to the theme of the tree. She is simple, made of wire and ribbon and beautiful, though. I like simple things, so I suppose she suits me just fine.
When we have a fuller family, in a house that isn’t up so many stairs, I think I would like to try the real Christmas tree again. As an adult it seems like a lot more work than I was expecting, and a little intimidating to boot, but I think it would be worth a try, even just once. Maybe when we have kids who are old enough to appreciate the novelty of going out and picking out a tree to bring home. Then again, they might not care. But I think it’ll be fun, nonetheless, and I can relive my childhood for a day. I hope you are all enjoying your own Christmas trees and traditions. Have a very merry day, my friends.