Live Christmas trees are standing outside my grocery store. I remember when you bought your tree from roadside Christmas tree lots like you see in Hallmark movies set in New York City. Nowadays grocery and big box stores in our area are the ones with fresh trees for sale.
Christmas décor has been out since Halloween competing with ghosts and jack-o-lanterns and pilgrims and turkeys. But there’s something about the scent of fresh trees that truly sends me into the Christmas mood.
My family went out searching for the perfect cedar along the rural roads in the hill country of Texas when I was young. We’d spot one and holler for Daddy to stop. He’d hop out of the 1957 Ford station wagon and check it out.
“Two trunks. No good.” He’d say as he climbed back into the car. Or “Too skinny” he’d mumble with a head shake not even stopping.
Finally, we’d find the perfect tree. He’d carry his ax over and chop it down. We had to watch from the car. We were never allowed to stand by the tree while he chopped. “Too dangerous, the ax could slip,” he said.
Years later, we learned the perfect tree was always on the other side of the barbed wire fence on someone’s property and he might have to run fast.
Growing up my Aunt’s Christmas tree, fully decorated, always stood in the garage wrapped in a plastic bag year-round. Some time in early December she’d move the tree into the den to the same place it stood every year.
We call the trees pencil trees these days. Back then, it was simply a skinny, little pre-decorated tree. As the years went by, the tree lost most of its ornaments. It stood like a sparkling light tree. We never cared.
It wasn’t the tree we’d come for, but the family celebration.
We’ll be dragging our tree from the barn soon. It’s not fully decorated or the live cedar of my memories. We call it “Charlie Brown.”
Soon our three adult children, their spouses, eleven grandchildren, two grand-spouses, and three great-grands will be here building holiday memories around our little tree all decked out in its holiday finery.
I can hear them sharing their memories years later. “Remember Nana and Pepa’s skinny beanpole tree.”
They’ll have a chuckle and, hopefully, remember most of all the love and fun of family gathered like I do.
For some, the holidays have no fond memories. To you, I send a cyber hug and prayers.
To the others, are you getting your Christmas tree ready for your holiday gatherings?