“The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature.”

I have already been out and about this morning and will go back out later. The day is chilly but not cold, in the mid 40’s. On my journey, I saw people wearing all sorts of outer garb including puffy jackets, sweatshirts, vests, just plain shirts and one guy in a t-shirt. I was among the vest wearers.

Gracie just brought me the most disgusting chew I’ve seen in a long while. It was crusted in dirt. She obviously had buried it in the backyard and now had a hankering to eat it. She dropped it at my feet, a gift of sorts I suppose. I took it in the kitchen and scrubbed it. The dirt swirled in the sink then went down the drain. I dried it as best I could and gave it to Gracie who wouldn’t take it. Maybe without the dirt it had lost its appeal. A bit later she went back and smelled it and decided it was okay. She is now eating it beside me on the couch. When I put things away for safe keeping, they often end up lost for good. I should have Gracie bury them for me. She never forgets.

The tree always went in the same corner, where the TV usually was. My father would lie on the floor to turn the screws on the tree stand while one of us tried to hold the tree straight and upright. He’d say let go, and when we did, the tree would sometimes lean. We’d hold it again, and he’d try to tighten the screws even more, this time with a screw driver to turn the metal loops. When the tree stayed straight, it was time for the lights. My dad always had tangled lights, and they always drove him crazy. It would take him a while to untangle the mess of all those sets. He was never patient. Once he’d finished that, he’d check to see if the strands would light. If they didn’t, he’d try to figure out which bulb had died. He was smart about that and would replace all the bulbs then check the ones he’d removed one at a time. When it was time to put them on the tree, he was always haphazard about it. My mother would say let the lights drape from branch to branch, but my father never did. He just walked around the tree and put the lights wherever. His only Christmas responsibilities, the outside lights, the tree and inside lights, were complete. He’d then watch TV. The rest was up to us.

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16 Comments on ““The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature.””

  1. Hedley Says:

    The natural tree in Leatherhead become the silver tree in Ashtead. Me Mum wanted that silver tree so badly. It must have been quite a statement in the late 60s along with a smattering of Danish furniture. The real challenge was to be the strings of paper chains that relied on poor glue and were to be placed in each corner of the room and flow effortlessly over each other in the middle. Great concept poor execution. Mistletoe announced me Dad – I am not quite sure who was to be the focus of his beery attentions.

    I don’t know the fate of the silver tree, but I am fussing about the green artificial monster that resides in two boxes in basement. Some assembly required ? You betcha.

    G’or blimey ‘ello Mrs Jones ‘ows your Burt’s lumbago ?

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Never an artificial tree until my mother was by herself after my dad passed. The tree in the boxes was far easier for her to put up.

      I have wanted a silver tree for years. My sister found a small one, a table size, but it doesn’t have the turning color wheel. It wouldn’t be my main tree but one for conversation sake.

      We are all live tree lovers. My brother-in-law cuts his own. I go to the tree lot and look at many. Luckily I have a tree stand which is easy for one person to manage. I turn part of the stand to straighten the tree.

      On one of my first Christmases in this hose I had little money and few ornaments. I sat and made those paper chains and used glue. A few years later, I could hear the sound of the chain coming apart one piece at a time-cheap glue, same as yours.

      I haven’t ever heard this song before. I like it but not as much as the there one.

      • Hedley Says:

        The paper chains had glue ends that required licking. We didn’t have the colour wheel, heck we didn’t even have a lava lamp.

        I will approach the assembly of the tree with some enthusiasm but come Boxing Day I will be fussing to put everything away and it will be gone long before the weekend is done.

      • katry Says:

        MDH,
        I cut my onward then glued them together. I had reams of construction paper.

        Little Christmas is usually the take everything down point.

  2. olof1 Says:

    Just above 32F here all day, drizzle to light showers and the humidity made it feel much colder than it really was. I picked up my package at the post office on my way home and I’ve stayed indoors since after our walk when I came home. It was so dark outside today that it might as well have been evening all day long. But to be honest, it was quite nice after working beside a warm oven all week 🙂

    Yes those wonderful screws that always gave up and broke after a few years 🙂 They usually rusted badly during the summer and when we used a screw driver it just couldn’t take the force we used 🙂 I remember the first plastic one with plastic screws, so much easier but then again, it wasn’t heavy enough to keep a leaning tree standing like the old heavy metal ones could 🙂

    It was my mothers job to put up the lights and she bought one of those chains that still shone even if one light bulb broke, she never wanted to fight with those lights like my grandfather always had to do 🙂 He would rather go on like that every year than to buy a new one and every year he got just as angry when he couldn’t find what bulb had broken 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      I just came in from tying to get the back outside lights to work on a timer. I didn’t check as it was really cold as it is close to dark. Today is ugly now.

      We always had the green and red one with the screws. Once it was too small to hold the tree securely and my dad had to run out and get another. Mine is huge and so easy to use I do it myself.

      In the old days of my childhood, they only had the strands which wouldn’t light if one was out. When the new ones came out, my mother bought a couple every year until all the old ones were replaced. That made for a peaceful light stringing.

      Have a great evening!

  3. Birgit Says:

    Unofficial day of mourning in my hometown, after decades of car production the very last car was built today. Another ~3000 jobs gone. Oh merry Christmas time, let’s shred the now needless production plant into tinsel and decorate the city with this stuff.

    • Hedley Says:

      Birgit
      I so get this and I am very sad that GM has closed your Opel plant. It hurts
      Best from Michigan
      Hedley

      • Birgit Says:

        Thanks, Hedley. Greeting from an ex-motorcity to struggling Motor City Detroit. All the best for Detroit’s workers, – excluding parts of GM management.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      I am so sorry. Losing 3000 jobs is horrific no matter the time of year. There are no words I can find to give comfort.

  4. Jay Bird` Says:

    Trees… don’t get me started! My dad usually got the skankiest tree on the lot to put in the bay window of our front parlor (old house). He was the embodiment of Ralphie’s dad on “The Christmas Story”. 20 plugs into one (often smoked) outlet. My mother would use lots of tinsel to cover the holes in the tree. It still inspired awe, and offered the promise of wonderful presents.

    • katry Says:

      Jay,
      It is so true that a decorated tree no matter how skanky looked beautiful to all of us. We’d just sit and stare at the lights and our reflections in the ornaments. I don’t remember the plugs, but I suspect they were like Ralphie’s dad’s. There weren’t a whole load of outlets.

      Once the tree went up, Christmas couldn’t come soon enough.

  5. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Decorating the Christmas Tree was always a struggle in my family.
    First the bottom bit had to be sawn off both to make it short enough to fit in the room and to get to a part of the trunk that was narrow enough to fit into the stand.

    After the tree was in the stand and relatively straight, the bare spaces had to be filled in. This involved drilling holes in the tree trunk and glueing in branches from the cut off bits. Elmer’s Glue was the glue of choice because my uncle worked for Borden’s and we had a lot of it. Christmas tree decorating always brings back the mixed aroma of evergreen needles, pitch and Elmer’s Glue. 😀

    Then came the lights.
    Most of us liked the lights nearer to the trunk of the tree to give it an inner glow and add more reflections off the glittery ornaments. My father liked them to be on the ends of the branches because he grew up with actual candles clipped to the branch tips. They were only lit once, on Christmas eve, and allowed to burn just long enough for everyone to say, “Wow!” at which point they were extinguished.
    The lights on our tree went back and forth a lot until a proper balance of inside and outside was acheived. 🙂

    My father insisted that the tinsel had to be carefully hung in groups of 3 strands on the ends of each branchlet. My mother and brothers were tinsel tossers. The combination of techniques was interesting.
    I worked in the factory that made the lead tinsel. Since I was the only one who knew how the tinsel got into the box without being tangled, I was in charge of getting it out of the box without being tangled. After that I just watched and chuckled.

    And the tree was ALWAYS beautiful. 🙂

    Enjoy.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Sometimes we had to do the same thing: narrow the trunk to fit the stand.

      My father always put the best side of the tree in front. I don’t think we did any moving of branches. If there was a blank spot, it stayed.

      I put white lights up and around the trunk of my tree so they look like stars shine though the trees then come the colored lights. We didn’t have a say as to where my dad put the lights. He just did it his way, the quickest.

      Why in a group of 3?

      My father had no hand in the decorating. My mother was the tinsel fiend. One strand at a time had to hang from the branches. Tossing bunches was never allowed, and if we did, we were exiled.

      I so agree-the tree was always beautiful!

      • Caryn Says:

        I don’t know about the 3’s. He told us once that his mother hung the tinsel one strand at a time. Maybe it was his way of speeding up the process without allowing total anarchy. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        My mother never veered away from her strand at a time dictate. We did toss and they’d land in a pile. She was always highly annoyed.


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