Oh, Christmas tree

By Tom Poland

Another Christmas has come and gone.

The trees that brought beauty to homes, stores, and more will soon come down. I’ve heard more than once that if you leave your tree up past New Year’s Day, you’re asking for bad luck.

Not sure about that but seeing all the trees this season brought back memories of a few special trees. How about you? I bet certain trees stand out more so than others.

I remember the first artificial tree I saw.

It was at my Grandmom Poland’s home. Aunt Vivian put the tree up. It was an aluminum foil tree illuminated by a light shining through a transparent spinning tri-colored plastic wheel. The effect was colorful and kaleidoscopic.

It was also a sign of things to come. Forests upon forests of artificial trees would follow, and one would be a spinning tree with lights built in. Mom had one, and putting it together was harder than Chinese arithmetic. Getting all the lights to shine was tricky too.

Mom had another tree I recall with some degree of surprise. An eastern red cedar stood in the corner of what we refer to as the Christmas room.

My Grandmom Walker was sitting next to the tree, admiring it, when she got a much closer view than she expected. The tree toppled over falling right on her. I remember seeing her peer through the branches like a squirrel.

We had another tree I remember because of its lights. I’m going way back now to the days of large glass lights with liquid-filled tubes of glass that bubbled.

The lights resembled some alien flower, and they got pretty hot, so you had to keep an eye on them. A dried out cedar can burn as if you’ve doused it with gas. These were the days of silver icicles too that we left on the tree when we returned it to the woods. Picking the icicles off one by one was labor.

I got to see my daughter, Beth, and her daughter, Katie, decorate their tree this Thanksgiving. It’s a real tree, thankfully, with that fresh-cut fragrance artificial trees lack.

My daughter and her family have a tradition: each year after Thanksgiving they go to a big tree farm and pick a tree. It’s not like we did growing up but it beats putting metal tubes and wires together. In my day, we’d venture into woods and fields looking for a red cedar. I’m certain my daughter’s children will prefer real trees when they have families of their own.

Yes, another Christmas has arrived and departed, leaving good memories in its wake.

Oh Christmas tree you have long been a part of my life. I recall you with strings of colored lights, which gave way to strings of white lights, which gave way to LEDs, which will give way to who knows what.

Maybe they will come out with a tree with laser lights. Well, hold onto your mistletoe, they already have. I’m sure a lot of people will go for that but not my daughter and not me. Give us a real tree with that pine fragrance, a tree that can return to the ground from whence it came, not into a box destined for another year in a dark, dusty attic.

Author: Rachel Howell

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