When we got married, we were living in a trailer. Before we left there, we had two children. We always 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 wouldn’t tip over.
We moved to Hickory Heights when our son was four and our daughter was 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 pretty stable as it could only rock 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 were away. This meant that the Christmas tree could not be put in place until the ground was dry. After shopping, we were always late for housework. The tree was not installed 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 to be washed. All my dishes had 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 my grandparents joined us for Christmas because 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 our tree. There is a movie where we drag the tree home on a sled. We really drove him home in a car and just brought him home by this method.
One year our Christmas tree was so big we could barely open the top door. Since he was in the corner, we had to sneak up the stairs.
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 have used our own trees. My husband took the kids and went out to cut one. They weren’t full and beautiful like the trees on tree farms, but at least they were pines that 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 from our lot.
A few years later, I finally figured out that the reason I got 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 then, we have artificial trees.
After my husband died, I reduced the size of my tree by buying a small model on a table. This is what I have been using since. In fact, the one I installed this year I bought to take to craft shows when my granddaughter and I attended. We never turned on the lights but we put on ornaments that we offered for sale. What I like about this tree is that the base lights up too. I don’t need a tree skirt.
I know a lot of people decorate trees in more than one room, but I don’t. We have always had a tree. This is also how I grew up. I have two ceramic trees and a few small trees that I brought from my grandparents’ house. When I turn them off, 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 forest farms. Every year millions of real trees are sold. Although every state in the United States grows Christmas trees, the top producers are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington.
Tree farms benefit the environment by reducing carbon dioxide in the air, thus helping to combat global warming. They are also recycled by being transformed into beneficial mulch for the crop.
Whether you are using an artificial tree or a real one, make the tree special. If you choose a real one, be aware that it probably took about fifteen years to reach the right size for your home. The great thing about artificial trees is that they can be planted early. Plus, there are no sweeping needles!
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pennsylvania. Contact at [email protected]