My friend Lana posted a picture of an idyllic scene where she had found her Christmas tree. “A successful hunt,” she said.
Now before I lose half of you, allow me to explain that I have hung ornaments on real and artificial Christmas trees. I can safely say we had a “good Christmas,” each year without regard to the style of tree we stood in the stand. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the importance of the tree was secondary at best and did not dictate the season’s outcome. However, sometimes the tree played a big part in making a particular year memorable.
I’ve put up my share of Christmas trees, sometimes the same one twice in a season, One year when the kids were little, they thought it would be a good idea to pluck an end from the tree for their own playful purpose, and the tree came crashing down. Another time when my sister (smaller than average size) was visiting during the blessed season and chose to stroll, rather casually and without haste through the living room, the tree tipped over. Yet another year, the tree, without any provocation or forewarning (other than the previous times) fell, breaking ornaments and lights, sending needles and water to and fro.
I fashion myself a quick learner – so after a time or two of trees flinging themselves onto the floor, I invested in a wide tree stand. The stand was so wide that if assembled outside of the display area, it would have to be tipped on its side to get through the door.
A wide stand did not prevent needles from finding their way down my shirt as I lay on the floor securing the tree into the stand. It took me a few years until I began to wear a hooded sweatshirt for the occasion – more evidence of my ability to learn quickly.
Whenever I hear people talk about “trimming the tree,” I always think of a chainsaw. The merry attendant at the Christmas tree lot reminds you to make a fresh cut on the trunk when you get it home. I usually took the suggestion too far, forgetting that the enemy of good is better. One year I reduced a seven-foot Fraser Fir to a dwarf variety better suited as a tabletop tree.
Of the available varieties (Balsam fir, Fraser fir, Scots pine, blue spruce, white pine and Norway pine), one year we got one that could have been named brown Sahara. It was so dry that whatever needles didn’t pierce your skin as you decorated it, fell to the floor with abandon as the 25th of the month approached. At the end of the season I hauled out what resembled a pole with some sticks protruding from the sides.
Real trees seem to resist my best efforts. I’ve knocked over lamps bringing a tree through the house, and in memory of my father, I have thought of throwing my glasses across the room when an uncooperative tree bumped them aggressively.
On the other side of the fence are artificial or heirloom trees. They are by definition fake. They come in a variety of colors (blue, green, pink and silver) and can be flocked to make them appear as if it had just snowed in your living room. For that special forest scent you can adorn them with car air fresheners, the kind that look like miniature trees.
This year, on Black Friday, my wife bought a pre-lit tree in a box. It’s not the romantic ideal of cutting one down in your woods (or your neighbor’s) or going to a tree farm, but our annual quest for the perfect tree has yielded a keeper, a trophy worthy of display.