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They don’t make trees like they used to

They don’t make trees like they used to They don’t make trees like they used to

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Ever since I was little, as far back as I can remember, my favorite part of Christmas was putting up the Christmas tree. I have an all-consuming obsession with Christmas ornaments.

Any store I walk in, if there are ornaments available for purchase, I have to carefully peruse each and every one. Even if I know an ornament isn’t in the budget that day, I feel it’s sacrilege if I don’t stop, and ooh and aah over every single one.

I don’t exactly recall when I became so enamored of ornaments, but remember at a tender age, the enchantment of them bringing an evergreen to life.

I love any kind of ornament: handmade, themed, traditional, whimsical, rustic. One of my treasured ornament sets, was given to me by my sister-in-law, Marilyn. She made an entire zoo from dough she mixed herself, cut out the shapes using animal cookie cutters, then baked and hand-painted them once they cooled. They’re adorable!

Growing up on a farm, it was so exciting the day Dad went to the woods to bring back the perfect pine. In retrospect, I’m sure my siblings and I drove him to distraction, not realizing what a complicated undertaking it was.

He first had to make sure one of the tractors would start in the crisp freezing temperatures, then came the task of locating a tree and cutting it down, and hauling it back to the house. The most agonizing part of the whole process, was waiting for simply ages and ages, for all the snow to melt off the branches before we could start decorating.

The smell of pine filled the room, as it was lifted into a large jar (it was industrial-sized, and may have come with brown sugar or pickles in it at one point), placed inside a wooden stand. Then, smaller pieces of wood were wedged around the trunk as stabilizers.

Not one to leave anything to chance, Mom would also wire the tree to the wall. I think I was a teenager before I realized baling wire was not a typical standard Christmas tree accessory. But, we never “lost a tree.”

As I grew older, I was allowed to go with Dad to pick out our tree. It probably wasn’t the wisest course of action to send us alone. One year, we walked and walked, looking for the perfect specimen.

Each tree failed to meet the requirements. One was absolutely gorgeous…until you walked around to find a huge barren spot in the back, one was not symmetrical and one looked like, if it had been a dog, it had mange.

We finally located one that was absolutely perfect. The funny thing about trees growing in the wild, is that sizes can be misleading. Once home, the tree was immense and had to have at least 3 feet cut off the top. It would have been more logical to cut the excess off the bottom, right?

At this point, the tree was already in the stand and Dad had to do some fancy wrangling to get this sequoia through the porch door, the front door, down the hallway and through the living room door. He rather emphatically refused to remove it.

That was one of the funniest and most awkward shaped, yet most beautiful trees, we ever had. It was enormous and took up over half the living room, and was roughly 8 feet wide (on the bottom anyway) and I think it took double strands of support wire, attached on either side of the tree, that year.

Once I was living on my own, I starting putting up an artifi cial tree, reasoning it would be so much easier than a real tree. HA!

I have gone through four perfectly good faux trees, ostensibly from allegedly over-decorating. I tend to put one or two, too many ornaments on the branches. Whereas normal people sparsely decorate using a single ornament, I feel if one ornament is good, five ornaments per branch is better.

At least the last tree I “killed,” only had seven strands of lights on it before it quietly succumbed, unlike a couple years ago, where the entire tree was decorated in magnificent splendor, before it gave a shudder, collapsing in a dignified heap.

This year, when I was contemplating putting up our tree, my daughter, Hannah, nonchalantly told me to “take it easy on the ornaments this year.” Ouch.

They just don’t make the artificial trees sturdy enough. Maybe I’ll try wiring my fake tree to the wall to save the decorations. And, possibly, to save face, too.