“…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night…”

When I went to get the papers, I saw the tips of the grass sparkling in the sun and my windshield covered in frost. It was a cold night. The sun, here earlier, is now hidden behind a cloud. I think it will do that all day long: in and out, in and out playing its own little game of peek-a-boo. It isn’t warm this morning. It’s 34˚.

The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas always seemed the longest stretch of time. The first couple of weeks after Thanksgiving were just like any other weeks only colder. They gave no hint of what was coming. The first signs of Christmas slowly began to appear. A few houses had lights, and the stores uptown put their Christmas decorations in the windows. Then the fire station was outlined in lights and Santa was climbing the chimney. The lampposts were decorated up and down the street, and the stage for the carolers was placed right on Main Street in the square. Just seeing all those decorations used to get me excited for Christmas, and the closer it got, the more excited I’d get.

My parents would finally buy the tree. It aways went in the corner where the TV usually was. The tree had to sit there for a while so the branches could fall. Those trees of my childhood were never all that full. There were empty spaces, but that made it easier for small hands to decorate the tree without mishaps. My father did the lights first. He wasn’t a patient man, and those lights drove him crazy. He’d check the sets one bulb at a time for the bulb that was out. If two were out, lighting that set was an impossibility until my father replaced every bulb. He’d then check the ones he took out and used the good bulbs for replacements. My father had no artistic sense. He’d just put those lights on willy-nilly. It always sort of horrified my mother who would then move the lights around until they looked symmetrical about the tree. She’d next drape the silver garlands on the branches. Then it was time to decorate. My mother put the big, beautiful bulbs on the top branches. We weren’t allowed to touch those. I have one of them my mother gave me, and I always put it on a top branch and think of my mother when I do. We’d pick an ornament out of the box and it was always filled with memories. We’d put it wherever we wanted or my mother would suggest a bare spot needing an ornament.

I loved decorating the christmas tree. Every night after that, I’d lie on the floor for a while and look up at the lights through the tree. They always looked magical to me.

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10 Comments on ““…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night…””

  1. Bob Says:

    What a nice thing to have a Christmas tree. Of course it has really nothing to do with the birth of Jesus but it’s a nice northern european tradition and now a big business. I always laughed at some very reformed Jewish families who would but up a Hanukah bush to make their kids feel good. My parents would never do that because we had our Menorah in the front window. Regardless, I like to see how people decorate their homes and their tree for the holidays. The only drawback is that all those beautiful trees are left on the curb after New Year’s Day. Somehow I think if you are going to have a tree, get a real one. Many cities are now collecting the trees and using them for mulch after they have been run through a tree shredder. I think last year you mentioned that your town uses them to help keep the beaches from eroding.

    Putting up the Christmas decorations has been a running Hollywood gag for years. Too bad, it makes father’s look bad. I would never do that. I would hire a professional to climb up on the roof and put up the lights. I’m afraid of heights.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      Nope, it is just one of the traditions which have come to be part of Christmas (you and you big business again).

      That’s true: my tree goes to protect the dunes from wind. They are put in a special pile at the dump just so they can be recycled.

      Without Christmas, those trees would not be grown as there would be no need for Christmas tree farms. They are a grown product just for the purpose of Christmas. A friend of mine has one in Maine, and he goes up there every year during the Thanksgiving weekend and harvests his trees.

      The fathers are over the top in those movies trying to out light their neighbors, but I haven’t ever seen that in real life. The highest my dad had to go was the edge of the roof and not even at the top of the ladder to put up his lights. Good thing too as he was one to fall from ladders!

      • Bob Says:

        I never thought about Christmas tree farms as a cash crop. A friend took his kids to East Texas to find and cut down their own tree. The next year he bought it from a local dealer. Cutting your own tree and dragging it a 100 miles on the top of the car is a once in a lifetime experience. His kids lost interest quickly.

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        My brother-in-law and nephew always went to a cut your own tree farm because the trees were so fresh, but the farm has shut down so they are trying to find another. If not, they’ll buy from a lot.

        Yup, the trees sold aren’t haphazard. They are grown on a farm and they are pruned to look like the trees we all get and tended like any crop.

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    My father would bring the tree in a few days ahead of time so it could acclimate. At that point there would be much sawing off of bottom bits so the tree would be short enough to fit in the room and still leave space at the top for the star.
    There would also be a lot of drilling and gluing. Branches taken from the sawed-off part would be glued into the tree to fill in the bare spots. He used one of those old screw-type hand drills and a lot of Elmer’s.
    After that, he and my mother would spend time making sure the tree was perfectly plumb in the tree stand.
    I won’t mentioned the tangled mess of tree lights that wouldn’t work because one of the bulbs was dead. Everyone of a certain age has that memory, I think. 🙂
    The lights were put on the tree. The decorations were put on the tree. The garland and the tinsel were put on the tree. The star was put on the top.

    Ta-Daaah!
    Merry Christmas!

    And then the cats would climb the tree, knock the delicate Polish glass bulbs onto the floor, eat the garland or the tinsel.
    The dog would drink out of the tree stand and tip the tree over breaking yet more Polish glass bulbs.

    I’ve had an artificial tree for many decades but sometimes I kind of miss that chaos. 😀

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Our tree came right inside as does mine. If I had a garage it would go there first to get to the warmer temperature. I have the guy cut off the bottom where I buy the tree, but I read an article this year which said to drill a hole up the middle of the trunk and it will last longer getting more water.

      I had a friend who did that. The back of his tree was bare but the front was beautiful. He would drill holes for the branches he’d move.

      I liked those old lights because they were so big and colorful. It takes so many more of the small ones to get the tree lit well. We put the garlands on before the ornaments, but that star was also our last decoration.

      My dog Shauna ate popcorn and gingerbread off my mother’s tree, but I never had food on mine so she didn’t touch it. When the cats were kittens, only plastic ornaments went on the bottom branches as they were knocked off and played with around the house. I did have one cat whom I noticed far up the trunk of my tree close to the top! Fern loves to sleep on the tree skirt.

      I have stayed with the real tree except for the ugly scrub pine artificial one I put in the corner of the dining room. It is filled with old ornaments, many of them plastic and the [plastic star on the top dates from the 50’s.

      Have a great evening!

      • Caryn Says:

        One year we had a mother rat and all her pink and white babies under the tree.
        We had the mother rat and all her pink and white babies because yours truly volunteered to take the school rat home for the Christmas week vacation (without consulting the parental units, of course).
        Nobody knew that the school rat was preggers until all those little ones appeared a day after I brought her home.
        Watching the little ones grow fur and acquire ratty cuteness over the week just added to the Christmas miracle. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        That’s funny! Your own Christmas miracle. They are real ugly when born, all pink and gross, but they do start looking cute even for a rat!

  3. olof1 Says:

    It was ciold, gery and dreary here yesterday morning and the only change during the day was that it got slightly less cold 🙂

    We always bought our tree December 13th on Saint Lucia’s day. My mother put up the lights and she hated those chains where one light stopped them all from shining so she was one of the first to buy that kind where the others shone even if one broke. I think it was well spent money 🙂

    She always hang the old decorations high up so we wouldn’t destroy them when we kids started our part of the decoration. She always wanted a Disney tree but I don’t think I can say we ever came close to make it look like that no matter how we tried 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      My back is really bad so I did nothing yesterday and have a long list for today. I hopeI survived.

      All we could get when I was a kid was the kind which didn’t work if a bulb went out. My mother too right away bought the other ones. I also took over the light job from my father. He didn’t mind one bit. My mother was thrilled.

      I always thought we had the most beautiful tree of all.


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