The Detective’s Daughter — The Christmas Tree

kimspolicehatKim in Baltimore with the windows open and the heat turned off!

IMG_2882There’s a problem with my Christmas tree…it’s not decorated. We’ve had a light issue this year. My dog, the wonderful Romeo, has decided there is nothing better for an afternoon snack than some tasty wire and crunchy bulbs. We’ve gone through a few strands and the type of lights I like are becoming harder and harder to find. Now I have the tree surrounded with my kitchen chairs. Hopefully, before next week I will be able to hang an ornament or two that won’t become a midnight snack for him.

The last few years we’ve had an artificial tree. I am not a fan, but due to some allergies, they’re the only type of tree allowed in the house. I miss going out in the woods and chopping the tree down with my family. Well, I didn’t actually chop it, my job was to keep hold of the children and make sure they didn’t wonder away with some other similarly dressed family. Everyone looks alike in a parka!

I remember when the kids were small and watching  A Charlie Brown Christmas, they’d ask me why Lucy wanted the fake trees. Who wouldn’t want to tromp around for miles in the bitter cold and cut down a tree and then tie it to the roof of your car praying for the forty minute ride home it wouldn’t end up in splinters on the freeway?
I think I miss our yearly tradition more than I dislike the artificial tree. No matter how cold, I looked forward to the tree cutting event each year. We would all pile in the car; kids, husband, even the dogs, and be on our way. The trip always included stopping for hot chocolate.

KimxmasGrowing up we never had a real tree. I had only seen Christmas trees like that at George Bailey’s house! Our tree was silver and sat on a table in my grandmother’s living room. There was a rotating light that changed the color of the tree from blue to red to green. For years I kept the tree in our family room until the wiring became hazardous.

Christmas trees hold more memories for me than any other holiday symbol. When I see them I can hear my mom playing her Nat King Cole Christmas album on the stereo and I think of my dad instructing us on how thin the sugar cookies should be rolled out. Of course, my favorite memories of are my own children and their delighted faces when the tree was lit or leaving the plate of cookies for Santa.

This year I’ve been milling around a small business that has recently opened. They sell cut trees and wreaths and have a tiny shop filled with handmade and antique ornaments for sale. I sit by the outdoor fire and watch the families with their small children making future memories.
Readers: What type of tree do you have for your celebration? Has it changed since you were little?

27 Thoughts

  1. I can’t imagine a dog crunching wires and ornaments, Kim! Poor him, and poor you.
    Growing up we had a very tall living room ceiling and always got a fresh tree, but there weren’t any Christmas tree farms in the Los Angeles burbs where I lived, so I didn’t get to cut my own until I moved to Massachusetts. My first “grown-up” tree was when I was 25 in my first year of grad school in Indiana. I bought one string of colored lights and a small fresh tree, and then strung cranberries and popcorn to decorate it. I think that was my favorite tree.

    1. Edith, your grown-up tree sounds beautiful! That’s my fantasy tree for the future. I am determined, despite my allergies, to have a cut tree next year. Poor Romeo, I think he was a goat in a previous life! He seems to enjoy sharp objects. Last winter he ate a few tacks and a magnet!

  2. A good dog can act badly at times. Too bad dogs can’t remember from year to year! When my parents got older, they switched to an artificial tree. I disliked it–It wasn’t “real,” but I understood they want of no hassle. I’ve always had real trees. My husband wanted to make a plywood tree this year and hang lights from it–I wouldn’t dignify the suggestion. On Thursday, I’m going to defy his wishes and get a tree. Not hand cut, but Costco has $30 blue spruces that are 7-8 feet tall. They looked fresh. So think of me on Thursday night when my husband finds a tree leaning aside our house!

    1. That sounds like a good deal and I don’t blame you for getting the tree. I would, too! My dear Romeo, I can’t remember ever loving a dog more, has no long term memory. He is not partial to any one type of material and has enjoyed snacks of cushions, pillows, wood, tacks, magnets, paper (read money!), and numerous electrical cords. He rarely sneaks food off the table, apparently that’s the job of my other dog Stella!

  3. We have an artificial tree. Our home is tiny and we use a wood burning stove as a nearly primary heat source, and my husband can really get it hot in the living room. In fact, Sunday it was 91 degrees. A real tree would quickly turn into a pile of browned needles! I grew up with one of those aluminum trees, after all they were antique. So natural looking! (Bleh) I was glad when my sister and I convinced our parents to get a real tree!

  4. We usually have real trees but haven’t ever cut our own. One year (when we lived in Florida) right after we opened our presents bugs started flying out of the tree. You’ve never seen a tree taken down so fast and hauled outside in your life.

  5. Artificial tree. I was sick every Christmas until my mold allergy was discovered. Evergreens have mold on their needles. Once discovered, no more “real” tree. But over the years I decided it was less about what kind and more about what it meant. When my kids were little, we put the tree in a playpen and the kids outside the playpen. Maybe that would work for you.

  6. My parents always had two trees – an artificial one upstairs, and a real one in the finished basement where we’d actually celebrate the holiday. The real tree-choosing ceremony was always my favorite part too, although we didn’t cut it. We went to a neighborhood tree stand and chose an already-cut one. My brother and I had to agree, which wasn’t always easy!

  7. We’re still hanging on to the tradition of a real tree (despite the fact that one year not one but two of our cats decided to follow each other up the trunk–at least it hadn’t been decorated yet). Since we live in a Victorian house, we feel we have to take advantage of the high ceilings. Our decoration process is very traditional, with colored lights (including some that change colors, which fascinate me), and a lot of ornaments, both old favorites and new. When we were young, my sister and I had a smaller separate one of our own, near our bedrooms, with its own little ornaments, some of which still linger. More ornaments than space on the tree these days!

  8. We always had a real tree, and somehow we always took our kids to pick it out on the tree lot on the coldest night of the year. I loved the tradition and miss it. The whining and complaining, the lost gloves and red cheeks.

    We also had a tabletop version of the silver tree your grandmother had. It was given to my husband by a work colleague and we used it as the “children’s tree,” the child-sized one they were allowed to decorate without adult supervision. My husband was at Brimfield this year and a guy tried to sell him one (“In its original box”) for $160.00. Ours is long gone many moves ago.

    This year, for the second time ever, we have a tiny tabletop tree that came decorated. We’re leaving town before the holiday, so decorating is very scaled back.

    1. So many times I have wished to have that old silver tree back. I would definitely have bought it! This year it seems our Christmas is scaled back with both kids living away from home. I know it’s a time to begin new traditions, but it is hard to let go of the past.

  9. Growing up, we had a real tree for years and would go out to a nearby farm to cut it. (This was in Northern CA.) We got an artificial tree when I was in Jr. High or High school, and I hated it. I got a live tree when I moved out on my own, but when I bought my condo 12 years ago, I got an artificial tree. I have a very small space for trees, and they can’t be too wide. I really miss the smell, but I love being able to put them up before I leave for Thanksgiving (usually no ornaments on them) and not have to worry about them drying out.

    And yes, I’m saying them because I now have two. And I still don’t come close to displaying all the ornaments I have each year. In fact, it becomes a smaller and smaller fraction of my ornaments each year.

    I do miss the smell of a real tree. I really, truly do. However, thanks to my allergies, I would get bad rashes on my hands from decorating and undecorating. I don’t miss that at all. And it is so nice to be able to bend branches to accomodate ornaments when you are decorating. You can’t do that with the real tree. Trust me, I tried every year.

    1. Mark, I feel your pain. I keep thinking I will get the real tree despite my allergies , but then common sense over-rides my sentimentality. I’m still hoping, though! We have tons of ornaments also. I’ve started separating them in boxes to give to my children for their own trees. Even so, I still have too many!

  10. That reminds me: my first year living with a roommate in Cambridge, and neither of us had a car or much money. I had given up on getting a tree at all (I wasn’t going anywhere over the holidays), and then a ramshackle truck with its back loaded with newly cut trees pulled up and parked in front of my apartment house. Yes, of course I bought one–I think it was $5. Didn’t have a tree stand or ornaments, but I had a tree! A small Christmas miracle.

  11. Yup, heat is off and windows are open in Schenectady (N.Y.) too! And I’m not complaining!
    Real tree, always, from childhood until now. When I first left home after college and at the start of my career, I didn’t put up a tree in my apartment. When I purchased my own home 21 years ago, I started buying my tree from a landscape company that set up a stand in the business district not far from my home. And believe it or not 21 years later I am still going there to get my trees.
    The funniest thing about tree allergies, several years ago I thought I was coming down with a cold. But, everytime I left the house I felt better. Nothing had changed with the tree, but I guess my ever changing Adult allergies decided to give me an allergy to trees that year. So, I suffered thru it until I took it down.
    My parents did have silver tree before I was born and gave it away to a family member, UGH! When I was older and would look at photos of the tree, my mother agreed with me, they should have kept it. I would love to have that 1950’s silver tree today!

    1. There is nothing like the silver tree! I am going to be on a quest to find a new silver tree. This time next year I’ll be posting about it! We have a huge tree out front that we decorate with lights and that helps a bit with my yearning for a live tree, but I miss the fresh smell in the house.

  12. Real tree, always! Growing up we would always buy our tree already cut from a pop-up shop on the front lawn of the Methodist Church. Now I wonder if the church got a kickback from the sales 🙂 My mother always preferred (and still does) a blue spruce. Even when I moved out on my own, my apartment-mates and I got a real precut tree–I remember one year we decorated it with our 1980s costume jewelry! When I got married, also a precut tree. When my son turned three and could appreciate the fun, we started going to a farm and cutting our own, and we’ve been doing it ever since.

  13. This is bringing back so many good memories! My grandparents had the white tree that had the spinning light wheel trained on it to change colors. When we were kids that was just the coolest thing ever!
    I’ll add a play pen story. My younger sister got a tricycle for Christmas and decided to take it on a spin – in the house. She built up quite a head of steam and, being a little kid, did not have great steering ability. She hit the tree in just the perfect spot to topple it over! Tree went into the playpen, tricycle went outside.

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