When we got married, we lived in a trailer. Before leaving, we had two children. We still had a Christmas tree, but it was a small tree that could be placed on a box and anchored with a rope to make sure it didn’t topple over.
We moved to Hickory Heights when our son was four and our daughter three. Now we could have a real tree – a tree that stood on the ground and didn’t need to be anchored. Our Christmas tree stand was an old wagon wheel. This made it quite stable since it could only tip so far.
We were renovating the house. My husband decided to finish the dining room floor the day we went Christmas shopping. It could dry out while we’re gone. This meant that the Christmas tree could not be put up until the ground was dry. After shopping, we were always late to do chores. The tree wasn’t put up until the next day, just two days before Christmas.
With all the dust created by sanding the floor, there was a lot of cleaning to do. My dining room table and chairs needed washing. All my dishes needed to be washed. We had a busy few days getting Hickory Heights ready for Christmas.
I was still cooking on a wood stove. I cooked a ham and made a potato salad – that way the potatoes were all cooked ahead of time. My mother and grandparents joined us for Christmas as it was a Sunday. Our Christmas program was that day. We came here after church for our Christmas dinner.
There have been many memorable Christmas trees since then. We always went to a farm to cut down our tree. There’s a movie of us bringing the tree home on a sled. We really drove him home in a car and we got him home by this method.
One year our Christmas tree was so big we could barely open the upstairs door. Since he was in the area, we had to sneak upstairs.
We had Christmas trees growing in the field right next to us. In fact, they were pines that we did not prune. For several years we used our own trees. My husband took the kids and went to cut one. They weren’t full and beautiful like trees grown on tree farms, but at least they were pines we could decorate.
My daughter’s boyfriend at the time lived on a Christmas tree farm. He didn’t think much of our Christmas tree. He offered to bring us one, but my husband refused saying we could use the one on our lot.
A few years later, I finally realized that the reason I was sick every Christmas was because I was allergic to the tree. My in-laws bought us a “false” tree. After that, my illness disappeared. Since that time we have artificial trees.
After the death of my husband, I reduced the size of my tree by buying a small model to put on a table. That’s what I’ve used ever since. In fact, the one I put together this year, I bought to take to craft shows when my granddaughter and I were attending. We never turned on the lights but put decorations on the ones we offered for sale. What I love about this tree is that the base also lights up. I don’t need a tree skirt.
I know a lot of people decorate trees in multiple rooms, but not me. We have always had a tree. That’s how I grew up too. I have two ceramic trees and some small trees that I brought from my grandparents’ house. When I take them out, they remind me of grandma and grandpa. We always put them on the piano but since I no longer have a piano, I put them in different places.
A word about Christmas trees. Christmas trees are an agricultural product. They are grown on farms. I discovered that there are almost a million acres of trees harvested from tree farms. Every year, millions of real trees are sold. Although every US state grows Christmas trees, the major growers are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington State.
Tree farms benefit the environment by reducing carbon dioxide in the air, helping to fight global warming. They recycle and turn into mulch, which is beneficial to the crop.
Whether you use an artificial tree or a real one, make the tree special. If you choose a real one, know that it probably took about fifteen years to reach the size necessary for your house. The advantage of artificial trees is that they can be planted early. Plus, there are no needles to sweep!
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pennsylvania. Contact [email protected]