Christmas was so different when I was growing up. The artificial trees didn’t come along until I was in high school and they were the aluminum trees with the color wheels that turned it blue, red, and green as it spun around beside it.
You could hang colored ornaments on them but could not put lights on them. I never liked them for that reason. I love lights on a tree and the more that are on it the better.
Of course the lights then were the large ones that were about 2 inches long and were always in a multi colored string. Even with their size it took a lot of them to look as pretty as the small ones we use today.
The real trees that my dad bought were always gorgeous to me; once they were decorated. They were the old fir trees that were very thin and spindly. You had to set it against the wall or decorate it to cover the hole that each one inevitably had somewhere. But that is what the icicles were invented for I guess.
The second Christmas after we were married we decided to drive to St. John with our friends to the big tree farm to pick out our own tree instead of buying from a store. The Saturday that we decided to go was very cold and shortly after we arrived at the tree farm it began to snow.
The four of us could hardly move with all the clothes we had on but we were still cold. The husbands started to complain early on in the search that they were cold and would we please just decide on a tree.
I noticed a tree when we first arrived near the edge of the field and I thought it was really pretty but I wanted to look some more so I wouldn’t miss a better one if it was out there. My friend wanted to look at all of them before she made a decision so we continued to plod along in the cold and snow.
Once we had walked all the way through the field and looked at all the trunks and the size of the trees we started back toward the building where you paid for them. I couldn’t find anything that I liked better than the first one I had spotted and my friend found one not far from mine.
We looked my choice over again and everyone agreed that it would be great in our apartment so my husband cut it down and we dragged it back to the car. They didn’t wrap them in the netting at the time so we had to figure out how to stuff it in the trunk of the car.
Our friends cut down their tree and somehow we managed to get both trees in the trunk of our 1969 Buick Electra. The Electra was a huge car and the trunk was as big as the interior in most compact cars today, but it was still a job to get the two trees stuffed in there.
The first problem we encountered when we took it out of the trunk was getting it to set straight in the stand. How we missed the fact that the trunk was not straight I have no idea, because all of us looked it over and it looked like it was straight in the field. My husband worked on it for about an hour to get it to sit straight.
When we were ready to bring it inside and set it up, we noticed that it was really wide. It didn’t want to go through the front door of the apartment (thankfully it was a ground floor apartment). It took a lot of tugging, pushing, laughing and cussing to finally get it through the door.
When the tree finally came through the door it popped into the room like a cork coming out of a wine bottle. It popped through the door with such force that we both almost fell down from the momentum.
The tree was only 6’ tall because we knew that the ceiling in the apartment was lower than normal ceilings so we had been very careful not to get one too tall. Even at that we didn’t have much room for the angel on top.
It was now time to put all the ornaments, garlands and lights on. We discovered when it was finally sitting in the apartment that it was 5 feet wide near the bottom. Funny thing; it didn’t look that big in the field. I had to make several trips to get enough lights and decorations to put on it.
It was perfectly shaped and didn’t have a single hole in the branches, in fact it was hard to get the lights into the branches because they were so close together, but it was beautiful when it was decorated.
We learned an important lesson that day: when you cut your own tree, they are always bigger when you get them home than they look in the field.
We decided a few years later to go with an artificial tree. But cutting down our own tree was a Christmas adventure we will always remember. To contact Sandy: [email protected]