Monday, December 21, 2009

Recycled Christmas Tree

And by recycled, I mean this blog post. I posted the same thing in 2007, but I'm bringing it back for an encore because it's still funny and we still talk about it in my family.

My late father used to pinch a penny until it screamed, and then pinch it some more. So when it came to Christmas trees, there was no fun little trip to the Christmas tree lot or farm to be had. And back when I was younger, artificial trees weren't so much in vogue as they are now.

So one Christmas, when I was about 15, my father and my younger brother went out looking for a Christmas tree. What they came back with is the stuff of family legend.

I really have no idea what kind of tree it was. It wasn't a Douglas fir or anything like that. It also wasn't a typical southern long leaf pine sapling, if the needles were anything to go by. And speaking of its foliage, it was, to be generous, sparse.

The tree was about six feet tall, and very, very skinny. There was no gently sloping line from a narrow tip to a full bottom. It was the Olive Oyl of Christmas trees, one thin silhouette from bottom to top, with a handful of sharp, jutting branches like a dozen skinny arms. It managed to stay upright until we hung the first ball. Clearly, the tree was incapable of standing by itself. So my mother, ever practical and ingenious—and well aware that my father would under no circumstances admit that the tree he brought home was anything less that what it should be—decided that we could temporarily sew the top of the tree to the top of the draperies standing right behind it. The thread would keep the tree upright as we applied the decorations.

With the tree fortified, we finished decorating it. Of course, we used about half the decorations we would usually use, and no combination of decorations--more garland than balls, more balls than garland--made it look any less anorexic. But it was a Christmas tree, and there were presents under it on Christmas. And we had something to talk about for years.

Which we did on a regular basis, for the pitiful little Christmas tree had one particular feature that added to the longevity of its memory, long after the pitiful sapling was hauled away in the January garbage. It was quite a shedder, dropping needles at an alarming rate. And the needles were as sharp as sewing needles, stabbing into bare toes and feet like heat-seeking missiles. We vacuumed, hand picked needles out, vaccuumed some more, and yet for YEARS afterwards, some unsuspecting bare foot would happen upon a needle in the carpet and the owner would cry out, "Damned Christmas Tree!"

(originally posted December 21, 2007)

Do you have any Christmas tree stories? Comment and you could win a copy of Julie Miller's BEAUTY AND THE BADGE.


Kea said...

That's a great tree story.

I don't have any like that. When I was young and in Gaspe, Quebec, we'd take the skidoo out (had a sled attached to the back) and go cut our own. Dad would always cut a tiny one (or maybe a tree top) for my bedroom too.

When I got older and lived in Halifax, NS, I'd go to a local seller (usually someone at a nearby gas station) and haul my own tree home on foot. Okay, over my shoulder. Not a huge tree, of course, about 5 or 6 feet.

Now I have an artificial one, have been through several artificial ones, actually, but there's just something about a live tree that especially wonderful.

Happy holidays and happy Solstice...whatever your tree this year, I hope you enjoy it!

P.S. Don't enter me in the draw, I already have the book.

Jemi Fraser said...

That's a great story :)

One year, we brought home a beautiful tree. We tried it in a new spot. Unfortunately the spot was a little close to the heating vent. There were hardly any needles left on the tree by Christmas morning. We had to shake the needles off the presents before we passed them out :)

Chambers35 said...

My husband and I like were married December 17th, 1994. I, fresh out of college and he still in the Army had a hodgepodge of belongings, one thing we lacked was decorations. We had an artificial tree. 7.5 feet of fluffy douglas fir....we had maybe a dozen ornaments, (a few of which had teeth marks from his previous room mates cat) Let's face it Charlie Browns tree looked better than this bad boy. So, I put up what we had and stood it in the corner. My mother and sister, (who took pity on that poor tree) snuck over while I was at work and added a few more bulbs...but still it was as naked as sad.
I now have more ornaments than can possibly decorate our tree....but we laugh as we have pictures from our wedding...and in the background captured for the tree.

simi said...

Thanks for nice info.

We wish you a Merry Christmas.

Marianne Arkins said...

My old roomie and I had seven cats -- all of whom were tree climbers. So after a couple of years of dumped trees and broken ornaments we decided on something the cats couldn't climb. We bought a roll of butcher paper and cut out a HUGE tree, sticking it on the wall with tape. We decorated it with stickers and ornaments we drew on and pasted real tinsel on it. And, yes, we put our presents underneath. I really loved that tree...

Paula said...

Who knew so many people had tree stories? :) Chambers, I love the fact that your wedding pictures have the tree in them for posterity--how hilarious! And Marianne, your Flat Stanley of a tree is actually a fun idea--I'll have to mention that to my family for the future. Everybody could make their own ornaments on single page labels, cut them out and paste them on the tree. What fun!

Linda Henderson said...

Well the only Christmas tree story I have is one of the years we lived in Colorado we decided to cut our own tree. We bought a permit from the forestry service and set off for the higher altitudes to cut down this tree. We started walking in the woods and the snow was so deep I was up to my thighs in snow, and I was carrying my youngest daughter at the time. I had to turn around and go back to the car with her. That was the last time we cut our own tree.