This is a really bad photo of the time I didn’t put my tree (which my husband had purchased without me because I was half living at my mom’s) up until Christmas afternoon, because that was my first time home after our last Christmas with my mom.
I was a young adult my youngest brother was my kid brother and one year—this would have been after our dad died and we moved to Utah and he would have been in jr. or sr. high school he must have taken a wood shop class because he made me a wooden Christmas tree. It was made with stacked wood pieces that fit together sort of like Lincoln Logs and the bottom two were stained brown for the trunk and the remaining were stained green for the branches. It aligned flat, but you were supposed to spiral the pieces around the base so it filled to make a Christmas tree.
That gift made me realize that when someone goes to the time and trouble to make you something with their own heart and hands it means they were thinking of you. As much as I loved that tree (which I’m sure I still have somewhere, although I think it needs some wood glue), what I loved most was knowing my brother was thinking about me.
Now we get all our trees from a family a few blocks down, from Baum’s. Before we knew them we used to buy them from cub scouts at any one of those tree places that seem to pop up out of nowhere in empty old lots right about Thanksgiving. They usually come with a guarantee that they will last until Christmas. One year mine didn’t. And darned if I didn’t take off every ornament and light and drag it back down to the lot for a replacement just two days before Christmas.
Depending on how old my kids were, we always had a few trees that ended up being pulled over—completely over half a dozen times before they were through. I’d sop up water from the carpet with our raggedy old towels, rehang the scattered ornaments, and be grateful if we didn’t lose more than one or two. Now I have a grand-baby I have to think about those things again. Know what? I’ll happily risk the hazard of spilled Christmas just to enjoy a baby around the house.
One of the first times after we discovered Baum’s (it strikes me as funny we didn’t start shopping there much earlier, as apparently my husband taught their kids) we drove up and I was so disappointed.
“They flocked ALL their trees this year!” I exclaimed. (I loathe the artifice of flocked trees, except the tiny Charlie Brown trees that are really just branches nailed on to a couple of 2x4s, which are pretty decorated with a few bright colored glass balls.)
My husband and my kids still tease me about this.
Of course they did not flock all their trees.
It had been snowing already that season. And that was real snow!
One of my favorite stories about my Grandpa Jacobs came out as our extended families gathered together for a dinner in some generic church gym after his death.
He was a frugal man, true to his Scottish roots. And saw no reason to buy a tree on years where no family was coming for the holidays.
One Christmas either my aunt or one of the uncles called on Christmas Eve to announce they were coming for Christmas.
My grandmother, as long as I knew her, was not one to disagree with my grandfather. But she must have put her foot down, insisting the grandchildren open their presents around a tree. Grandpa begrudgingly went out to see what slim pickings were left at the now really vacant vacant lots.
He did not expect to pay full price for a tree that would be discarded the very next day, so he set about finding a spindly, cheap tree and asked to pay half price. The proprietor said “No.” My grandfather continued to try to talk down the price, but found himself evenly matched for stubborn. Yet. Grandpa held firm on his offer to pay half price.
As the story goes, the tree man eventually agreed to my grandfather’s offer, took his money, and then sawed that tree right in half, lengthwise, giving Grandpa Jacobs half a tree, which he proceeded to take home and, without explanation lean up in the corner, full side out as if half a tree were perfectly normal.
[Day 46 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]
I did it!!!