I often wonder why we practice certain traditions. For instance, why do we bring huge, live trees inside our home during the holidays? It seems absurd to cut down a tree, drag it inside our homes, argue over who is going to water it, and then proceed to add lights and decorations just so we can remove it and complain about all the needles for the rest of the year. To further add to our bizarre behavior, we have evolved to convenience ourselves with fake, plastic, “feel real,” $1,000 trees to simulate the same experience but avoid the mess and allergies. You can even buy Frasier Fir room spray to emulate the fresh, woodsy scent of the real thing. Next, we will likely add fake bugs and a simulated squirrel like in the movie “Christmas Vacation.”
Growing up I couldn’t wait to get the Christmas tree up in our home. Being a small child in the oh so stylish 1970’s meant a pathetic, fake, poor excuse of a tree with gaudy, colorful, blinking lights, homemade ornaments, and silvery, thrown tinsel from the dime store. But, oh what a thrilling sight! I recall us children pestering our mother to please get the tree down from the attic so we could begin. Once retrieved, we still had to wait additional days before she would let us decorate it. It never dawned on me she was stalling by saying the metallic-limbed tree needed “to fall” first. I suppose all mothers have to preserve their sanity somehow.
Once married, my husband and I were quite frugal but it was mostly my being dutiful that we got our tree from my husband’s Christmas Tree Farm. Before you imagine rows of lush, evergreen, sky-reaching pines, picture this instead…. He had planted a hundred Virginia pines a few years prior but didn’t adequately space, trim, nor shape them. Lo and behold, we took the “Charlie Brown Tree” to the next level. The gaping holes, missing sides and contorted shapes ensured our tree was truly one of a kind. They were also usually 9 feet wide- go figure.
When our children were little, my controlling nature was tested every Christmas. They loved helping mama decorate the tree but having triplets meant all our ornaments went to the bottom of one side of the tree and I had to (gasp!) leave them that way until they went to bed. Since our boys’ grabby little hands were always pulling on the ornaments, my husband would use fishing wire and tie the top of the tree to a hook in the ceiling. We had way less downed trees after that. Necessity is truly the mother (or father) of invention.