Wednesday, December 8, 2010

O Christmas Tree

One of my favorite Christmas traditions has always been the Christmas tree. What's not to love? There is such novelty in bringing part of nature indoors. The process of decorating the tree is always a special family time.

As a child, I think I anticipated getting the tree even more than receiving gifts or most any other part of Christmas. Each year we rode in my dad's truck to the Christmas tree farm and proceeded to spend as much time as necessary finding the perfect Christmas tree. It had to be just the right height and just the right denseness. Sometimes the hunt took quite some time, but it was always worth the effort. One year it was so snowy we had to shake the snow off of each Christmas tree just so we could see the shape of the tree.

My brother and I in front of our Christmas tree in 1989.
After the perfect tree was selected, cut down and purchased, we came home to begin the decorating process. (My parents must have labored to set up our Christmas tree, but my childhood memory excludes this part of the Christmas tree routine)

While breathing deeply of the incredible fragrance of the fresh cut Christmas tree, we opened the box of Christmas lights and began the process of finding the 3 lights on every strand that were either loose or burned out, causing the majority of the rest of the lights on the strand to not work either. Our living room had strand upon strand of white lights stretched out, ready to be checked. In my memory, this was just all part of the fun. Christmas music was playing on the overhead speaker and our family was together working on this project. Ah, the memories.

After giving up on a few strands of lights, we ended up with enough strands to adequately light the Christmas tree. With Christmas music still playing, my brother and I sat back and watch my parents transform the evergreen tree to an object of light and beauty.

Once lights were on the tree and the angel was placed on top, my brother and I could join in the decorating fun. Out came the Christmas ornaments. We covered the tree with our favorites. (My favorites were of course placed where I could see them best as a child. So what if the ornaments were not evenly distributed over the whole tree.)

After bows and candy canes were placed on the tree, we all sat back and admired our handiwork. We of course had the best smelling and most beautiful tree. (Sorry if you thought otherwise.) I always felt so sorry for those poor people who had artificial trees and didn't get to experience the tree hunt and amazing smell of the fresh tree.

Now, 20 years later, I am married and have children of my own. For nine years my husband and I carried on the Christmas tree tradition in our own home. We have trudged out in cold sunny weather, on rainy days and maybe even a little snow over the years.

My kids began to form memories of their own of what a Christmas tree should look like and smell like. They fondly remembered the process, just like I did as a child.

Then, to my nostalgic childhood memories, I began to add adulthood memories of Christmas tree frustration. One year, our tree would not stay standing. I think it fell over 3 times. Then there is the year that fairly early on I forgot to water the tree. By Christmas it was no longer green. It looked more like kindling. Instead of a beautiful Christmas tree, we had a decorated dead tree and I was afraid to even turn on the lights in fear it might just burst into flames.

As an adult the Christmas tree process became something I almost dreaded. What if it was pouring down rain on the day we went to hunt for the tree? How many times will we have to trim the base of the tree and slam it into the stand so it stick and stays? It seems like no matter how many times we try to twist the little things on the stand that holds the tree in place, it still leans one direction or another. And then there is the problem of remembering to water the tree. It needs to be watered just about twice a day. And if you forget to water it? It's toast! Don't even get me started on the lights. After we get the all working and the lights on the tree, it always seems like half a strand decides to stop working. And then when it is time to take the tree down, you may as well just TRY to get needles all over the house. It always happens anyway. Oh my.

This year, I changed things. No more hassle! After my final hunt for the perfect tree with realistic looking needles, I settled on a Fresh Cut Grand artificial tree. Yes, our family has gone artificial. Those of you who know me well are probably still in shock, but it is true.

After we set up the tree, I had that momentary realization that I hadn't watered the tree yet. But, no more tree watering for me.

My kids were less than thrilled about the thought of an artificial tree. My 6 1/2 year old daughter was devastated that our tree will not smell good. But now that the tree is set up, she seems to be fine. In fact, while we were listening to Christmas music and decorating the artificial tree as a family, she said "We have the best family ever." Yes, that is how Christmas tree decorating should feel to a child.


  1. We love our artificial tree too! :) Glad you see the benefits now. And, hey, you can always light a pine-scented candle or even spread a few pine branches on your mantle to get that Christmas tree smell in your house.

  2. I actually ordered some fir essential oil that I thought I would dab on the tree a few places. It should arrive on Tuesday. Looking forward to out tree smelling like real! :)