For many of us, Christmas trees are an important part of our holiday traditions. Some folks even have a tradition of where they get their tree… how they dress… they take a picnic... or hot chocolate... Do you faux or is yours real? Do you have a tradition of cutting your tree at a farm… in the forest? Are you picky about the type of tree? How it gets decorated?
I must admit, currently, we’re of the faux group. When I was 3 or 4 years old my parents realized that I (and my brother) were allergic to “Christmas” trees… actually I am allergic to almost every evergreen/fir tree there is. Ironic since I live in literally the Evergreen State… Washington. So, growing up we had a fake tree. It was part of our holiday tradition to drag out that box and put the tree together… this was the early 70’s and those fake trees usually came as a post and you put the appropriate branch in the appropriate little hole… then voila… a tree! For us, it was part of our holiday tradition.... putting the tree together.
My first tree of my own was when my husband (then boyfriend) and I lived together in an apartment in Bellevue, WA… we’d just started our first “real” jobs and had moved into our apartment just before Thanksgiving… funds were tight so we got a tree from my in-laws “back yard”. Just a tip for those of you that don’t cut a tree in the woods… they look a LOT bigger in your house than in the woods! The tree had a rather large diameter.. combined with the one string of multi colored lights, a couple of ornaments, and some hand me down ornaments with left over flocking stuck on them… and one of those cheap white fake-snow-with-glitter-glued-on tree skirts. Let’s just say it wasn't all that pretty and I don’t think I have any photos of that tree!
The next Christmas found us in our new house that we’d just moved into before Thanksgiving (again) and 4 days before our wedding. Actually, I’m not even sure if we had a tree that year….. I do know that the next 4 years in that house, we had a tree, usually purchase at our local Albertson’s parking lot tree sale. I wasn’t very picky about my trees in those days… one year the tree had such a crooked top half that we had to put it in the tree stand at an angle! However, I did start to get picky about my decorating in those years… I swapped the multi colored lights for plain white… then even added some plain red lights as I started to theme my tree with predominately red and white ornaments.
By our 5th anniversary we had moved out of the Seattle area back to the area we grew up in… the same area we live now. We had added a member to our family, my daughter, and I was pregnant with my son. We moved into our home in November (what is it with us moving at the holidays???) and didn’t have much furniture in our new living room… so we had LOTS of room for a tree that year. This was our first time of deciding to get a tree at a tree farm. While my husband got the truck warmed up my daughter and I headed out the front door to get in the truck, somehow leaving the door open in the process. Fortunately our new neighbor noticed and came over and shut it for us! It was a good way to meet the new neighbors!
We lived in that house for 14 more Christmas’s… although I had become picky about the actual decorating process of the tree, we never really latched onto any specific tradition for actually getting the tree. Some years it came from a store lot, some years a garden center, some years a tree farm. We didn’t even always make it a “family event” to actually GET the tree. When my son was a preschooler, my neighbor and I headed to a local tree farm to get our trees. It was the middle of a cold spell and a Nor’easter… not sure what we were thinking since neither of us ladies were good with a saw. I ended up cutting down 3 trees that day while laying on the frozen tundra with a preschooler waiting in the truck! It was soooo cold that I didn’t take off my leather gloves… the tree that I thought was a Frazier Fir was a spruce! Not a good choice for a Christmas tree… do you know what it is like to string lights on a spruce? Or put on the decorations? Needless to say, my leather gloves were sap covered after the tree decorating and I’ll admit...we threw that tree out with the lights on it! There was NO way I was going through that prickly experience of removing them!
A couple of years after that my husband was away at training for the month of December. The tree picking meant a trip to the local garden center with his work van for transportation. The helpful man at the store put the tree in the van trunk first. The tree was a bit crooked in the stand that year and of course, quite a few folks pointed it out to me... oh well, at least we had a tree!
Another year the tree picking wasn’t dramatic but the decorating was. My daughter decided to add the tree topper one early morning when I wasn’t home. Needless to say, it toppled, ornaments broke. My husband, being helpful, cleaned everything up and righted the tree. He didn’t however tell me that he threw the broken ornaments out… which could have potentially been glued back together. Let’s just say that we now are the proud owners of an empty box depicting “baby’s first Christmas” for my son’s first ornament. Wasn’t real funny then but it makes me smile every year to see that empty box that I've kept all these years in with our other ornaments.
Then as my kids got older and more involved with school and sports… well getting the tree just become another thing for the overloaded “to do list”. I decided it was time to go “faux”. By now fake trees even came pre-lit and much easier to assemble… and if you were close to a Costco, the price was comparable to the cost of 2 or 3 years of purchasing a tree! It really relieved some stress but I did miss the smell of a real tree. A year or two after we got our Costco faux pre-lit tree I purchased a real wreath and hung it, inside, close to the tree…. That is when I realized after a few years of no tree, no holiday sniffles, no holiday tiredness… well I was still allergic! Don’t know why this didn’t occur to me in the approximately 15 years of having a tree that was real!
December 2004 and we moved into Red Gate Farm one week before Christmas (geesh, we really need to pick a different time to move!)… we actually had stayed with my in-laws for 7 weeks waiting to move in after our old house sold quickly, meaning all of our earthly belongs were put in storage, including the faux tree. My in-laws aren’t quite as “Christmas crazy” as I am and they didn’t put a tree up while we were there. Surprisingly, the first item my husband got out of storage and brought to the “new house” was our faux, pre-lit tree... yep, even he had missed my Christmas decorating. And the tree? Well it went up in the enclosed front porch, just like we still do now. We actually didn’t even hang ornaments that year with the craziness of moving in but it was soooo good to have the tree glowing every night.
Since that Christmas 7 years ago, we had to replace the original faux tree that had mostly broken branches and not many lights left with a newer/younger/thinner model from Costco… It even fits, as is, in the basement so we (the royal we, since I don’t carry it upstairs) haul it up stairs every year, plunk it down and plug it in. Easy, peasy… I think I’m firmly in the faux camp these days... at least for my tree.
And I don’t think we’ll be doing any more holiday moving,
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